Majority of Czechs still oppose the euro and fewer Hungarians support common currency

Christopher Adam

While the adoption of the euro is off the table in Hungary until at least 2020, Czech popular opinion remains torn on the issue, with a clear majority still opposing the replacement of the koruna with the common currency, according to a study published this week. CVVM, a scholarly pollster in Prague, found that 69% of Czechs oppose introducing the euro in the Czech Republic, with just 24% supporting it. While the proportion opposing the common currency is high, it’s worth noting that just two years, 85% were against it.

Czech President Milos Zeman is pushing for a public debate on the adoption of the euro and himself supports replacing the koruna with the common currency. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the euroscepticism of his predecessor, Václav Klaus. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, concedes that at the moment, there is significant disagreement over the future adoption of the euro even within his centre-left coalition government, comprised of the Czech Social Democratic Party, the populist ANO 2011 group, and the Christian and Democratic Union. As such, Mr. Sobotka believes that in the best case scenario, the Czech Republic might be able to join the Eurozone in 2020.

The proportion of Hungarians who oppose the adoption of the euro is growing, according to the most recent Eurobarometer figures. But unlike in the Czech Republic, a majority of Hungarians still think that it would be a good idea to replace the forint with the common currency. In Hungary, 60% of the population supports the adoption of the euro, while 35% oppose it and 5% of respondents are uncertain. This represents a decline of four percentage points in the proportion of the population supporting the common currency since 2014. While the Czechs remain the most reticent when it comes to the common currency, Romanians are the most supportive, with 68% seeking to replace the leu with the euro. Poles, however, tend to be more skeptical, with a majority of respondents (53%) opposed to joining the Eurozone.

Fictional Hungarian euro bank notes designed by graphic artist Barbara Bernát.
Only one side of the euro coins, of course, allow for national designs, but Ms. Bernát explored
what Hungarian national euro bills might look like.

What the Eurobarometer polls tell us, is that after Romanians, Hungarians seem to be the most enthusiastic about the euro, at least among the Eastern European countries that have yet to adopt the common currency. A Hungarian graphic designer, however, went several steps ahead and designed what Hungarian euro bills might look like, if the European Central Bank allowed for national designs of paper notes, rather than just one side of euro coins. Ms. Bernát’s design received some positive reviews from the arts community, especially for its crisp, minimalist aesthetic. When the bills are viewed under UV light, the skeletons of the animals depicted on each note are illuminated.

Under UV light, the skeletons of the animals depicted on each note are illuminate

The Hungarian forint, however, looks set to stay for the foreseeable future. While the Orbán government initially set 2020 as the likely date for adopting the euro, in 2014 the Central Bank of Hungary announced that it would be replacing the current series of forint bills with new ones (starting with the 10,000 forint bill, which was replaced last December), at a cost of 15 to 20 billion forints. Hungary’s national currency may, indeed, have many more years to go.

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