The euro zone’s troubles are forcing its member states to forge closer integration and Hungary will have to decide in coming years whether to give up some sovereignty in economic policy and join the group, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday.
All EU states are required eventually to join the euro, except Britain and Denmark which have legal opt-outs. Orban’s right-wing government has not set a target date for joining the euro and the constitution, which stipulates that the forint is the national currency, would first have to be changed.
“There are so many problems in the EU that several countries are warming up to the idea that after the single currency a deeper integration could also be created,” Orban said in a speech to Hungarian ambassadors.
“This poses a serious challenge to us, to all countries who are not members of the euro zone.”
He said it was not clear whether the efforts for closer integration within the euro zone would work, but added Hungary faced an inevitable choice – give up important parts of its national sovereignty and join the euro zone or remain outside.
“This will be the big intellectual challenge and exciting debate of the next few years,” Orban said.
Orban said any decision about joining the euro zone would have to be based on “national unity”, noting that a two-thirds majority would be needed to amend the constitution. His government currently falls just short of such a majority.
Hungary has been a major beneficiary of EU funds for infrastructure and other projects, like Poland. Polish President Andrzej Duda said last year Poland would be ready to adopt the euro when Poles start earning the same as western Europeans.