* PM Tusk says decision on road to euro needed soon
* Source says 2017 likely target for euro adoption
* Poland fears being left outside EU's core
By Karolina Slowikowska and Pawel Sobczak
WARSAW, Dec 14 Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk
has raised the prospect of relaunching his country's bid to join
the euro soon, saying to do otherwise would risk simply being on
the European Union's periphery.
The largest member of the EU's emerging east has so far
treated euro entry as a rather distant prospect amid the
turbulence surrounding the common currency.
But top officials in Warsaw have grown concerned it could be
left outside what it sees as Europe's core as the euro zone
makes far-reaching decisions to steady itself after its recent
crisis, including this week's decision to give the European
Central Bank new powers to supervise banks.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Brussels on
Thursday, Tusk said Poland faced a choice "whether to become a
part of the heart of Europe, which will be the union around the
economic-financial axis, where the common currency is at the
core, or become a rather peripheral state with its own
He said the actual adoption was a matter of years away, but
if Poland does not take a decision in the coming months, the
opportunity may "float away".
A source close to the government told Reuters the government
could target 2017 as an entry date, which would mean it needed
to push forward next year to enter the pre-adoption currency
stabilisation mechanism known as ERM-2 and peg its currency to
the euro in 2014.
Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski cautioned, however, that
euro entry would not be a simple matter.
"Poland will join the euro zone as soon as it is possible,
but also beneficial and safe for Poland," he said. "The
restructuring of the euro zone must be advanced, but we also
have a lot to do to make it (euro adoption) safe."
But a decision was necessary: "We do not want to be in a
grey area in the medium- and the long-term," he said.
Many analysts say the decision on when Poland enters the
euro will be driven primarily by politics, not economics. Poland
sees its destiny as being in the front rank of EU
decision-makers, and many in the government believe euro
membership has become an essential qualification for that.
Poland, the European Union's seventh-largest economy, is the
only member to avoid a recession in the aftermath of the global
financial crisis, in large part thanks to the significant
weakening of its currency to boost its competitiveness.
With polls showing that less than a third of Poles
supporting abandoning the zloty in favour of the battered euro
the government will also have a hard time winning backing from
the opposition to push through required constitutional changes.
"One has to show that the euro zone has been greatly
transformed and improved, that the euro is one of the key global
currencies and only in this context one may regain support,"
said Pawel Swieboda, president of the demosEUROPA think-tank.
Poland currently does not meet any of the euro zone
convergence criteria. It remains under the EU's excessive
deficit procedure that Warsaw hopes to be lifted by the European
Commission next year.
Inflation, which is now easing quickly, still exceeds the
reference level. However, most economists say Poland's strict
financial discipline have put it on track for convergence within
the next few years.