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Bulgaria's euro membership not before mid-2022: EU's Dombrovskis

FILE PHOTO: European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis attends a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Bulgaria will need to wait at least until mid-2022 to join the euro, the EU commissioner in charge of the common currency said on Friday.

The country meets the nominal criteria to adopt the euro, with low inflation, healthy public finances and its lev currency already pegged to the euro, but is also the EU’s poorest state and has problems at some of its banks.

Sofia’s application last year to join the EU’s Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERM-2), a waiting room before full euro membership, is likely to be successful “by the middle of this year,” Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in a live chat on social media.

He added that Bulgaria would need to be a member of ERM-2 for two years, and then another year would be necessary for “practical preparations” before it could join the euro.

“It takes at least another three years” to adopt the euro from when Bulgaria joins the ERM-2, Dombrovskis said, effectively setting the date for Sofia’s accession to the euro zone at not before mid-2022.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Angus MacSwan