(Bloomberg) — European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the currency union’s newest member proves that the euro has lasting appeal.
“Croatia worked hard to become the 20th member of the euro area, and it succeeded,” Lagarde said in a statement on Sunday. “It shows the euro is an attractive currency, which brings stability to its members.”
The Adriatic country of 3.9 million, scarred by war a generation ago, just completed its transformation and became the latest country to join the world’s biggest currency zone. It also means the ECB Governing Council increases to 26 policymakers, with Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujcic joining the ranks of rate setters.
Two other euro hopefuls aren’t so fortunate. Romania’s bid for membership has been hampered by internal squabbling, evidenced by the highest turnover of governments in the European Union.
Bulgaria, the bloc’s poorest country, wants to join in 2024, but wary European officials aren’t convinced that its economy and scandal-plagued banking system are ready for currency prime time.
Ultimately adopting the euro is actually a condition of signing up to the EU, though the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Sweden don’t seem interested. Denmark, which clinched an opt-out on acceding before the dawn of the currency, isn’t budging either.
“Only six EU member states are not members of the club,” excluding Denmark, Lagarde said separately in an interview with Croatian newspaper Jutarnji list published on Saturday. “If they need more time, that is fine. When they meet the criteria and wish to join, we will be happy to increase the number of euro-area countries.”