The monetary union is the final stage of the process of European integration. It is also important for the achievement of economic goals of the European Union. The provisions governing the conditions and principles of membership in the monetary union are included in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The so-called convergence criteria and the ERM2 system are the most important of them. As results from the provision of the Treaty, the legal situation of non-euro area EU member states is temporary, and they are legally obliged to introduce the euro. A different situation is in the United Kingdom and Denmark which have secured themselves discretion to decide in this respect. The adoption of the euro is binding. From the legal provisions it may be interpreted that, the access to the monetary union of a member state meeting the convergence requirements (and remaining outside the euro zone) would take place, theoretically, against the will of that state. The majority vote procedure is applied in this respect, and the Council deciding the issue is bound only by the convergence criteria and - as the practice shows - not entirely. Moreover, membership in the euro zone of the EU member state meeting appropriate treaty criteria cannot be blocked. Even in the event that the treaty requires unanimity, none of the members of the euro zone may vote against admission of the state which satisfies formal requirements. This would be in contradiction to the objective of the integration and, therefore, would infringe the obligations of the state resulting from the EU treaties. There are only two ways in which the EU member state possessing its own currency may delay its access to the euro zone The first relates to the decision about joining the exchange rate mechanism (ERM2), as it only a treaty requirement for the monetary union membership, and not an obligation. This question is decided on the state level and is of a strictly political nature. It may also depend on the results of public consultations (referendum). The second way is the determination of the exchange rate of the national currency.
Mariusz Muszynski, Uniwersytet Kardynala Stefana Wyszynskiego, Wydzial Prawa i Administracji, ul. K. Wójcickiego 1/3 bl. 17, 01-938 Warszawa, Poland
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