ECB deals setback to Bulgaria in bid for euro membership

The European Central Bank (ECB) on Wednesday dealt a setback to Bulgaria’s hopes of soon joining the euro, saying the European Union’s poorest country needs “wide-ranging” reforms to put its economy in shape. The statement came in the ECB’s report on progress toward membership among EU countries that haven’t yet joined the 19-country shared currency. Bulgarian officials had said they wanted to enter the euro’s two-year waiting room this year. Bulgaria has low government budget deficits and debt, and has already pegged its currency to the euro, but the ECB expressed concern about high business debt and corruption. Weak education and skills training were also mentioned. The decision is ultimately made by eurozone political leaders but the ECB report will strengthen skepticism about the Bulgarian bid, AP said.