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Non-EU Norway should adopt euro to save industry: statistics director

OSLO, Oct 28 (AFP) - Norway, handicapped by a strong currency, should consider replacing the krone with the euro without joining the European Union, Norway Statistics director Svein Longva said Monday in the daily Aftenposten. "If possible, (introducing the euro) would solve some of the problems we have in our fiscal policies and in the budget policies," Longva was quoted as saying. The krone, boosted by some of Europe's highest interest rates due to central bank concern about overstimulating an economy largely based on oil, has recently hit record highs against the euro and the dollar. "If the krone remains at today's level, industry will be in trouble and unemployment will increase dramatically," Longva said, explaining that the competitivity of exporting businesses would be hurt by a too-strong currency. "An alternative would be to find out if it is possible to adopt the euro in Norway without becoming a member of the EU," he said. The central bank and the finance ministry ask the same question "every day," he added. But Norwegian Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss dismissed the idea of replacing the krone with the euro. "Only EU members have the right to belong to the euro zone ... Replacing our national currency with the euro would not resolve the (monetary) pressure of our economy, which supports the strength of the krone," Foss told public radio NRK. Norway, rich in North Sea oil and natural gas reserves, has rejected joining the EU in two referendums, in 1972 and 1994. phy/vs/nh