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EU member Hungary said Tuesday it could adopt the euro by the end of the decade if the country's economy continues to improve and the bloc's common currency becomes more stable.

"If economic trends are lasting, if we move closer to the EU's average developmental level, and if our productivity continues to improve, I wouldn't deem it impossible that Hungary joins the eurozone by the end of the decade," Economy Minister Mihaly Varga said. "However, this requires a more stable euro as well as a common fiscal policy," he told the Magyar Hirlap daily in an interview.

Varga added that he regularly consulted on the matter with counterparts in Poland and the Czech Republic, both also EU members outside the eurozone. "Similar to us, they too meet the requirements (for adopting the euro)... But as I see it, they aren't rushing into things either," he said.

Currently, 19 of 28 EU members use the euro.

The others, with the exception of the UK and Denmark which negotiated legal opt-outs, are obliged to eventually adopt it after meeting economic criteria like a small budget deficit, low inflation, and low interest rates. Hungary, a nation of 10 million people whose national currency is the forint, is a major beneficiary of EU aid for poorer members. The country does around 80 percent of its trade with EU countries, and would likely receive more inward investment if it adopted the euro. But right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban - a vocal opponent of EU integration who has often scolded Brussels for criticising his domestic policies - has never set a target date for its adoption.

In a speech in February, Orban said that Hungary would have to decide if the country "gives up our sovereignty and joins the core of Europe, or it bears the risks of staying outside".

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016


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