Croatia enters Eurozone, Schengen area

AP

Croatia switched to the Euro and entered the passport-free Schengen area on 1 January 2023, two major milestones for the country after joining the EU nearly a decade ago.

At midnight local time, the Balkan nation said goodbye to its Kuna currency to become the 20th member of the eurozone.

It also became the 27th nation in the passport-free Schengen zone, the world's largest, which enables more than 400 million people to move freely around its members.

Experts say the adoption of the euro will help shield Croatia's economy at a time when inflation is soaring worldwide after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent food and fuel prices through the roof.

But feelings among Croatians are mixed: while they welcome the end of border controls, some worry about the euro switch, with right-wing opposition groups saying it only benefits large countries such as Germany and France.

"We will cry for our Kuna, prices will soar," said Drazen Golemac, a 63-year-old pensioner from Zagreb.

Many Croatians fear that the introduction of the euro will lead to a hike in prices, in particular that businesses will round up prices when they convert.

'Elite club'

Use of the euro is already widespread in Croatia.

Croatians have long valued their most precious assets such as cars and apartments in euros, displaying a lack of confidence in the local currency.

(With AFP)


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