The Balkan country, which currently holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, is eager to join the euro zone and sees its entry as an acknowledgement for its reform efforts since it entered the EU in 2007.
Bulgaria’s lev currency is tied to the euro through a currency board.
“Most likely we will apply in the first six months,” Goranov told foreign correspondents through an interpreter. A spokeswoman confirmed that he was referring to an application in the first half of 2018.
“In no way can we present any risk to the euro zone,” he said, citing Bulgaria’s two-decade linking of its lev currency to the euro and the country’s strong economic fundamentals, which are well within the criteria for euro zone membership.
The EU executive has said it supports Bulgaria’s plan but not all 19 members of the single currency area are comfortable with the country joining.
Bulgaria runs a fiscal surplus, has inflation under control and is one of the least indebted EU member states.
But diplomats and bankers say that, while Bulgaria meets the nominal criteria to join the euro zone, it needs to reform further its small economy and root out graft to bring its low living standards closer to its wealthier EU peers.
Bulgaria ranks as one of the poorest and corrupt countries in the 28-member EU.
Sofia does not have a target date to adopt the single currency but argues that entry into the obligatory two-year ERM-2 currency grid, commonly known as the euro’s “waiting room”, will be a good signal for the common European idea, especially as Britain is preparing to exit the bloc.
Bulgaria has stepped up talks with the European Central Bank and member states over its ERM-2 entry, but sources familiar with the process say no decision is likely before Germany has a new government.