Croatia enters a new era of the euro and Schengen area
Croatia is starting a momentous year as it joins the EU's borderless Schengen region and abandons the kuna in favor of the euro.
When it joined the EU in 2013, the nation made a commitment to joining the eurozone.
Nationalist parties sought to preserve the kuna, but the constitutional court disallowed their request.
It is the twenty-seventh nation to join the Schengen region, which permits 400 million people to travel freely inside it.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, praised the modifications as "two great victories" for the EU's newest member.
She predicted that January 1, when the modifications went into effect, will go down in history.
Most importantly, she said, this will be a time of "pleasure and pride for the Croatian people."
"It is a testament to your incredible journey, your diligence, and your resolve."
Croatia, a former Yugoslav republic that fought an independence war in the 1990s, has "achieved its strategic, state, and political goals," according to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who made the statement on Sunday.
He was speaking at a ceremony where passports will no longer be routinely examined at the Bregana border crossing with neighboring Slovenia.
According to Mr. Plenkovic, Croatia's status as a tourist destination—which is largely a location where tourists go by car—would benefit greatly from Schengen membership.
The fact that we will also be part of the eurozone, he continued, "gives another signal to everyone visiting Croatia."
The expansion of Croatia's tourism sector, which contributes 20% of the country's GDP and receives millions of tourists annually, is anticipated to follow the country's entry into the Schengen area.
Border crossings with Slovenia and Hungary should no longer have the lengthy lines they once did.
The euro is already widely used in the nation; significant assets like homes are valued in the currency, and a sizable portion of bank accounts are as well.
According to experts, switching to the euro should protect Croatia's economy during a time of global inflation.
The euro was introduced as an electronic currency on January 1, 1999, and on January 1, 2002, it was recognized as legal tender for nearly 300 million people in 12 member states. There are currently 20 nations in the eurozone as a result of Croatia.
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