Austria rejects EU bid for euro expansion

Vienna, Sep 14: Austria's government on Thursday rejected an European Union proposal to bring more member states into the eurozone, warning that such a move could lead to fresh economic crises like the one seen in Greece.

Chancellor Christian Kern, a Social Democrat, and Conservative Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, both expressed reticence to back the euro expansion proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the European Union address the previous day, Efe news reported.

Kern, who is to run against Kurz in the parliamentary elections in October, told Austrian ORF radio that before adopting the euro, countries must first meet the criteria of the Maastricht agreement, tackle inflation, debt, deficit and pursue measures against tax evasion.

Until such criteria were met, expanding the euro area would only lead to financial problems, Kern said, before referring to the example of Greece and its struggle to recover from bankruptcy and the 2008 economic crisis.

Separately, Kurz reiterated that same warning, insisting that the EU must avoid another Greece situation.

Giving his annual address to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Juncker advocated for all EU member states to eventually take on the euro as their currency.

He also suggested the creation of a European Finance Minister to offer financial and technical assistance to countries seeking accession to the eurozone as well as an expansion of the Schengen Area of free movement to Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

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