European union’s newest member, croatia, has joined the schengen zone and adopted the euro as its currency. european commission president ursula von der leyen and croatia’s prime minister, andrej plenkovic, both hailed the two changes as “immense achievements” for the country. croatia is the twenty-seventh country in the schengen area, which allows 400 million people to move freely between countries.
Changes took effect on 1 january 2021. croatia is the twentieth country to join the eurozone, which was launched on 1 january 1999 as an electronic currency and became legal tender for about 300 million people in 12 member states on 1 january 2002. the schengen zone covers border crossings with hungary and slovenia, which should now become easier.
Euro is already widely used in croatia, with key assets such as homes valued in the currency and a large percentage of bank deposits also denominated in euros. moving to the european currency should help shield croatia’s economy at a time of inflation across the globe. nationalist parties had wanted to keep the kuna, but were overruled by the constitutional court. joining the schengen zone is also expected to boost croatia’s tourism industry, which accounts for 20% of its gdp and welcomes millions of visitors each year.