Dimitar Radev: BNB and the banking sector will be ready within this year for the introduction of the euro in the country

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"The BNB and the banking sector will be ready within this year for the introduction of the euro in the country." This was stated by the governor of the national bank, Dimitar Radev, during today's forum on the topic "Bulgaria in the Eurozone. When?". The conference is organized by the Association of Honorary Consuls in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian CFA Association and the Association of Banks in Bulgaria. Among the topics of the event were the challenges and prospects for our country when introducing the euro, as well as the political, economic and financial aspects of membership. Among the participants in the forum were the Acting Minister of Economy and Industry Petko Nikolov and the former Deputy Prime Minister Nikolay Vasilev. Among those present at the conference were former Prime Ministers Simeon Saxe-Coburggotsky, Sergey Stanishev and Marin Raikov, former Speaker of the Parliament Borislav Velikov, former Deputy Prime Minister Maria Gabriel, former Ministers of Finance.

Foreign guests at the event were the former Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schussel, Joseph Muscat, former Prime Minister of Malta and Adrian Nastase, former Prime Minister of Romania, and in the second part of the forum, Michalis Sarris, former Minister of Finance of Cyprus and George Zanias, former finance minister of Greece. They shared the experience of their countries as members of the Eurozone.

"However, there are a number of information and accounting systems, as well as the municipalities, which must be adapted to work in the Eurozone," stressed Dimitar Radev. He also answered the question at the conference itself - when Bulgaria should enter the Eurozone - expressing the opinion that this should happen as soon as possible.

Radev explained what the conditions of the competences of the executive power are, which must be fulfilled before the introduction of the euro. According to him, Bulgaria will not be able to fulfill all the criteria for entering the Eurozone until June, when the convergence report is published.

"We need a clearly established, sustainable pro-European political structure. Adopting as quickly as possible the Law on the introduction of the euro, which will give clear indications, new legal guarantees for businesses and households about what is to come," he said.

According to him, work on the remaining conditions and technical preparation should be accelerated. If this scenario materializes as soon as possible after the upcoming elections, our chances of joining the Eurozone in 2025 remain strong and entirely realistic.

"As a result of the political crisis in recent years, we have lost both initiative and leadership in the process of joining the Eurozone. Nevertheless, our readiness in terms of accession conditions, legislative and technical framework remains high," he added.

"Joining the Eurozone is among the main priorities of the country. The introduction of the single European currency is proof of the deepening of Bulgaria's European integration". This was said by the Minister of Economy and Industry Petko Nikolov.

According to him, with its accession, Bulgaria will take a big step forward and participate in the process of forming the monetary policy in the EU. Our country will become part of a community in which over 340 million citizens of 20 EU member states use the euro as their national currency. According to the minister, Bulgaria's membership in the most developed monetary union in the world will bring significant benefits in economic and social terms.

Among the benefits for Bulgaria, Nikolov pointed out the increase in the country's credit rating after the adoption of the euro. "Bulgaria will have the opportunity to finance itself through loans with lower interest rates from the international markets. The single currency will reduce transactions and costs for business, which will support the country's foreign trade, will have a positive effect on foreign investments and would ensure comparability of prices and wages with European ones", said Nikolov.

The Minister of Economy outlined as a strategic goal of our country the fulfillment of the conditions for membership in the Eurozone by the end of 2024, after which the euro will be introduced as the national currency. According to him, the actions necessary to achieve this goal are related to observing budgetary discipline and reducing inflation to levels comparable to the countries with the lowest inflation in the Eurozone. As a challenge for Bulgaria, Minister Nikolov pointed to meeting the inflation benchmark and indicated that efforts are needed to achieve it. "The Bulgarian administration is working hard to fully introduce the European requirements into the legislation in order to prepare businesses and consumers for the transition to the new currency," he added.

"The introduction of the euro in Bulgaria will be accompanied by specific measures to protect consumers, which include requirements for the correct recalculation of prices from BGN to EUR, double labeling of the prices of goods and services in EUR and in BGN," said the Minister of Economy. He assured that the period of dual pricing will start one month after the date of entry into force of the Euro Adoption Decision and will end 12 months after the date of introduction of the euro.

Minister Nikolov was categorical that the transition from lev to euro should be carried out smoothly and in an informed manner so that the benefits of membership can be felt by all Bulgarian citizens and businesses. "Businesses will have enough time to prepare for the actual transition of information, internal business process management systems and payment systems," he added.

Nikolay Vassilev: We have a chance for the Eurozone for January 1, 2025.

According to former Deputy Prime Minister Nikolay Vassilev, Bulgaria has a chance to be accepted into the Eurozone from January 1, 2025, but the issue depends on political will. According to Vassilev, there are four factors for the eurozone, and all of them focus only on inflation, specifying that we cannot speak on behalf of the European institutions and cannot beg them to be accepted if we do not meet the criteria. "We should have pursued a radically different anti-inflationary policy in recent years, not a pro-inflationary one," Vassilev said.

Nikolay Vassilev raised the issue of Bulgaria being on the "grey" money laundering list of the global supervisory body Financial Action Task Force (FATF). "Formally, this may not be a criterion for the Eurozone, but the question is whether we should have been there now. Have you heard any ruling party or political party mention this issue," Vassilev asked.

The former deputy prime minister also highlighted the issue of the budget deficit. We will probably have another budget update this year. For 12 years, according to my memories, there was not a single update of the budget, and now update is the most common word in politics in Bulgaria in recent years, that is, we cannot plan anything, there are no revenues, expenses are in the sky, we compete every time before elections who will raise various expenses more", Vassilev commented.

According to the former deputy prime minister, however, the first factor for joining the Eurozone is political will.

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