January 31, 2014 / 2:05 PM / 4 years ago

Romania aims for euro zone entry in 2018/19 - president

BERLIN Jan 31 (Reuters) - Romania will spend four or five years improving its economic competitiveness before joining the euro zone, even though it is set to qualify for euro entry this year, President Traian Basescu said in Berlin on Friday.

“We will undoubtedly fulfill all of the Maastricht criteria this year,” Basescu said, referring to the conditions - such as on debt and inflation - that European Union (EU) member states must meet before adopting the currency.

But he said Romania would first focus on privatisation to change the profile of its economy, now 45 percent public sector.

Basescu hinted at his frustration that Romania was losing skilled workers to Germany, France and other countries with ageing workforces, but said such flows could not be prevented.

Since the start of the year, Romanians and Bulgarians have had full access to the EU’s job market and social services.

As the euro zone’s biggest economy with low unemployment and a generous welfare system, Germany is a magnet for migrants, with 67,000 Romanians going there in the first half of 2013, well before the formal opening of EU borders.

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