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Euro: from zero to hero

East Europeans tired of political interference would welcome the euro.

Relatively affluent countries like Poland are struggling to meet the euro zone’s demands, while Bulgaria and Romania — the EU’s two poorest countries — have almost no chance of enacting the austerity measures necessary to qualify anytime soon, experts said.

“All the industry went bankrupt after 1989,” said Gheorghe Popescu, an economics professor at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. “More or less what we consume here are imported goods. All the efforts by the Romanian government to stabilize the economy and to stabilize prices are fruitless because the money pumped into the Romanian economy goes abroad.”

Others noted, however, that most euro zone members would fail to meet Brussels’ requirements if they were put to the test today. Europe might need to change its standards if it wants the instill the euro zone with the confidence that expansion brings, they said.

“It’s hard to see how Europe — let alone small countries like Bulgaria — will compete internationally unless the euro zone expands,” said Bulgarian economist Ivan Angelov. “If European countries are not
economically and politically united, they have no chance to face the economic challenges coming from the United States and the new giants in Asia — China and, in the future, India. Europe has no alternative.”

Anca Cighi contributed to this report from Arad.