In Croatia, 'Nothing Is the Same After This'

It'll now use the euro
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2023 11:15 AM CST
New Year Has Big Implications for Croatia
Croatia's Minister of Interior Davor Bozinovic, left, toasts with his Slovenian counterpart, Sanja Ajanovic Hovnik, at the Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

"Nothing is the same after this," declared Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, per the Guardian. At the stroke of midnight on Saturday, Croatia switched to the shared European currency, the euro, and removed dozens of border checkpoints to join the world's largest passport-free travel area. It marked a fresh start for the small Balkan nation of 4 million people that captured international attention three decades ago as the site of a brutal war that left nearly a quarter of its economy in ruins. Joining Europe's ID-check-free Schengen zone means Croats will now be among almost 420 million people who are free to roam its 27 member countries without passports for work or leisure, reports the AP.

Adopting the euro—making Croatia the the 20th country in the eurozone—will likewise offer Croatia the benefits stemming from deeper financial ties with the currency’s 19 other users and with the European Central Bank. It will also make traveling and doing business easier. Croatia joined the EU in 2013, but to adopt the euro the country had to fulfill a set of strict economic conditions, including having a stable exchange rate, controlled inflation, and sound public spending. The Croatian kuna and the euro will be in dual use for cash payments for only 14 days, but as people shop post-holiday in January, they'll receive only euros in change.

Slovenia has been a part of the Schengen zone and tasked with safeguarding its external frontier since 2007. Now, the task will be taken over by Croatia, which will continue to apply strict border controls on its eastern borders with non-EU neighbors Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro; borders with Slovenia and Hungary will be open. As one Zagreb resident put it: "We have already been a part of Europe, but dismantling the borders and switching to the euro is the final confirmation that we are fully integrated" with the European Union. "I am truly happy. It will make many things in our life much easier."

(Read more Croatia stories.)

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