Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden are currently the EU states which are obliged to adopt the Euro, but haven't done so yet. The reason why those states are able to skip on their obligations is because they use the "ERM II loophole" - EU members must adopt the Euro after being in ERM II for two years, but they are not obligated to join ERM II in the first place.

What I don't understand is why the EU has allowed this loophole to persist for so long? Surely they could've at least required countries joining after 2004 to enter ERM II as fast as possible?

  • 3
    Why would they? The euro is a disaster and it's difficult enough to find temporary fixes with only 19 countries around the table. Sure, it was originally supposed to cover (almost) the whole EU and those countries are technically supposed to join but there is no upside to forcing them and many more important battles to fight for the Commission.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 22, 2017 at 14:14
  • Incidentally, the problems of the eurozone have very little with the (perceived or real) “health” of this or that economy, the real problem is the lack of coordination and transfer mechanism, anti-cooperative policies by some countries and lack of effective mechanism to deal with asymmetric shocks. See, for example, what happened to Finland. That's why getting new countries on board only makes things worse, even if those countries have performed relatively well in the last few years.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 22, 2017 at 14:19
  • @Relaxed so the loophole is intentional? That's also a good answer. Apr 22, 2017 at 14:30
  • @JonathanReez I don't know but I don't think so either. My interpretation (but it's mostly speculative, hence no answer) is that having everybody join was the plan back in 1992 but when those countries became eligible, they saw the scale of the disaster and decided not to go through while the EU was facing so many crises that nobody wanted to push the issue. Letting the loophole in place is a very convenient way to avoid reopening this can of worms. Nobody gets a new exemption but nobody is forced to join either.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 22, 2017 at 14:39
  • 4
    It's not an uncommon way to deal with things in the EU, there is an ocean of wilful blindness, temporary compromise and unenforced rules between “full-on enforcement” and ”deliberate loophole”.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 22, 2017 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


It cannot be definitely answered in a manner that would even approximately explain all countries reluctance to adopt euro. But I have to point out a few things:

  1. You are mistaken that there is a "ERM II loophole" - it's true that every joining EU country must adopt euro, which starts with joining ERM II,
  2. but there is no time limit on petitioning to join ERM II
  3. because after entering ERM II joining country must fulfill a number of entry criteria, of which Poland (our example) fulfills none. So there is no point in forcing anyone to join euro if they won't make it even past initial stage.

EU requires that every country that joins adopts euro as a currency, however except for joining and staying in ERM II for two years there are no other requirements, including time limit to do that and weren't at the moment of accession of Poland. There was no need for one, especially since EU itself preferred that when Poland joined EU. And introducing any requirements after that would be a breach of the Treaty, obviously.

ANd when crises hit it was easier and safer to just shelf the issue for better times.

I can only explain why Poland doesn't want euro - and it's at the moment what matters most. It's in addition to the above, and this will be mostly from memory (however based on very lively public discussion on the issue back in the good ol' times - that is before 2009):

  1. It would require changes to the Constitution, which is hard to do in PL
  2. It would greatly reduce the role of the NBP
  3. It would limit the government ability to borrow money to finance deficit.
  4. It would reduce country's export competitiveness. Traditionally high exchange rate meant relatively low prices of polish goods in euro countries (mainly Germany)
  5. ERM II exposes countries to speculative attacks on currency, which are very expensive to defend against.

There was a reason for the open end. in 2004 eurozone was in much better shape, even if there was a number of people and organizations that warned that what we see right now will be the final outcome of the euro currency project. The countries participating (or at least most of them) made most of the requirements and it was them who did not want to rock the boat by introducing countries with fiscal and financial issues. And some countries weren't keen on euro in the first place. Poland is a big exporter so most of the companies even preferred to exchange currency to euro - mostly because we sold a lot outside EU and this wouldn't change after adopting it. So it would be mostly political decision which public would not appreciate at that time to the point of upsetting the political stage. And no one wanted that - both EU and major political parties in Poland ATT were wary of the opposition (times proved them right, it seems).


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