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Poland wants to join eurozone 'as soon as it's safe'

From Jim Boulden, CNN
May 3, 2012 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Poland is the European Union's fastest growing economy
  • Poland's finance minister says the country wants to join the eurozone
  • Finance minister Jan Vincent-Rostowski says the eurozone must be "repaired"

Warsaw, Poland (CNN) -- Poland, the European Union's fastest growing economy, wants to become a member of the eurozone -- but its finance minister says the country will wait until "it is safe to do so."

"We want to join (the eurozone)," Jan Vincent-Rostowski told CNN. "I think we feel that there is still a lot to be done and the eurozone has a lot of homework to do."

The minister says the eurozone must be "repaired" and that there is more work to be done. "We are very concerned, we think half the job has been done, but we are still not entirely out of the woods," he said.

He says at the moment there is no real safety net when problems arise in the eurozone and there needs to be fewer restrictions on the European Central Bank, for example when it comes to buying government bonds.

"We feel that the so-called firewall is inadequately large and we feel that the freedom of action that the ECB thinks it has is inadequate," he added.

But despite the difficult economic climate engulfing much of Europe, Poland's economy is continuing to grow.

According to Vincent-Rostowski, between 2008 and 2011 Poland achieved a cumulative growth of almost 16% -- double that of the EU's second fastest growing economy, Slovakia.

Regardless of Poland's growth, the country is enacting a policy of austerity. Vincent-Rostowski sees this as the most important part of the country's fiscal policy. He says Poland will reduce the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product this year, and is almost certain that they will eliminate "excessive" public debt.

The finance minister believes his country is well placed should the eurozone's economic prospects improve, or even if they weaken, saying that scenario helps Poland's export performance.

"We are fairly comfortable with both situations," Vincent-Rostowski said. "I am not too concerned one way or another."

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