The European Union (EU) economy and finance ministers formally approved Croatia becoming the 20th member of the common European currency in early 2023, a move that was hailed as the culmination of a “amazing trip” for a Balkan nation that was at war.
The Vice President of the European Commission (EC), Valdis Dombrovskis, said that Croatia’s accession confirms that the euro remains a “attractive, resilient and successful global currency” and a symbol of strength and unity.
“This is particularly important at such a challenging time when Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continues to send shockwaves around the world.Dombrovskis said, at a ceremony to celebrate Croatia’s accession, the first enlargement of the euro zone since 2015.
The European Council, which brings together the 27 EU states, adopted the three legal acts necessary for Croatia, a member of the bloc since 2013, to introduce the euro on January 1.
One of those acts fixes the conversion rate for entry at one euro for 7.5345 Croatian kuna. Croatia now has a few months to prepare the practicalities of the currency exchange.
In southeastern Europe, Croatia has been an independent country since 1991, when it left the former Yugoslavia which, along with Bosnia’s secession a year later, triggered years of devastating war with Serbia.
Neighboring Slovenia, also a former Yugoslav republic and now an EU member, adopted the euro in 2007. There are currently 19 countries in the euro zone.
Croatia was led by nationalist Franjo Tudjman until his death in 1999 and, in order to join the EU, took steps to fight corruption and improve governance, including the conviction of Ivo Sanader, prime minister from 2003 to 2009.
Croatian Economy Minister Zdravko Maric called the EU’s green light to adopt the euro “great historic day” for his country, whose stunning Adriatic coastline is a major tourist destination.
EU Economy Commissioner Paulo Gentiloni hailed Croatia’s imminent entry into the euro zone as an “extraordinary result”.
“It has been an amazing road for Croatia. For my generation, Croatia lived through the first (European) war after the end of the (Second) World War”, he said, referring to the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s.
To adopt the euro, Croatia had to meet the criteria of price and exchange rate stability, sound public finances and moderate long-term interest rates, all compared to EU benchmarks.