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According to a report put out by the European Central Bank on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, none of the eight countries that are waiting to join the euro currency are ready. Most countries in the group have only been waiting since 2004 or 2007 but Sweden has been waiting since 1995.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Sweden are the eight countries that are members of the European Union but are not a part of the Eurozone – meaning they are not using the euro as their currency. Seventeen countries are currently using the euro, including Greece, although there have been discussions that it may have to leave the Eurozone. Currently the United Kingdom and Denmark are not using the euro either – instead they are using the pound sterling and krone respectively – but the decision to not use the euro was theirs, not the European Central Bank’s.
The United Kingdom opted out of the euro by negotiating an exception within the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. Joining the euro was heavily opposed by most of the United Kingdom, although its close neighbor, the Republic of Ireland, has adopted the euro. Denmark was able to opt out of the euro as one of the four conditions of the Edinburgh Agreement in 1992.
The European Central Bank must report on the progress of these eight countries every two years. So far it appears as if only Latvia will be able to join the euro currency by the next assessment in 2014. According to the bank, “in none of the eight countries examined, [is] the legal framework fully compatible with all requirements for the adoption of the euro.” They also claimed, “incompatibilities remain regarding central bank independence” in all of the countries.
Additionally Latvia and Lithuania are the only two countries of the eight currently taking part in the exchange rate mechanism II for more than two years which is required to be a part of the Eurozone.
Many of the countries’ economies are doing better than current eurozone countries. Seven of the eight countries – the exception being Hungary – have a debt-to-GDP ratio under 60% which is the Eurozone limit. Currently Greece’s ratio of debt-to-GDP is 165.3% and Italy, Ireland, and Portugal had ratios last year above 100%.
According to a statement from Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland earlier this May, Poland is still interested in joining the Eurozone even though the euro has been damaged by the current debt crisis.