Croatia joins Schengen and switches to the Euro

By: Aeden Evenson-McDermott

As the new year began and the world turned its focus to the up and coming 2023 calendar year, the ties between Croatia and Europe would be closer than ever before. Croatia has had EU membership since 2013. Various countries that are in the EU are not in the Schengen area and don’t use the euro.

A few examples to understand the complex system: Sweden is part of the Schengen area but doesn’t use euro as it still uses krona as its currency, and Ireland as an EU country isn’t Schengen. Thus, it prompts the question of how the EU, the Schengen area, and euro currency are intertwined? The EU and Schengen areas are separate components that do not imply the use of the euro currency.

Croatia, with a population of 4 million, got its independence in 1991 and the Balkan country got the green light into the EU in 2013. This major step for the country of Croatia has been celebrated in the deeper connection to Europe.

A bit of background on the Schengen zone; the zone spans in population of 420 million people, it allows for the goods, services, and people of countries to travel without restrictions in other Schengen countries. The less hassle of providing identity and travel documentation for customs allows for a bit more of easier travel.

The span that Schengen covers is 23 EU member countries along with four members of the European Free Trade Association.

Croatia, being the 27th country to join, also sets the bar for air travel check to expire in late March of this year.

The global use of euro also is prevalent, as it allows for a more stable currency to replace the current currency of the Croatian kuna which is less stable.

Some of the foreseeable benefits of joining include: it allows for more global trade partners and easier networking of shipments between countries, it also helps combat national inflation (which is key to keeping prices down), and with the more stable currency it allows for the markets to hopefully not exceed current prices. Additionally, the tourism industry, which currently makes up 20% of the country’s annual GDP, will also take off and recover from the pandemic with more incomes as well.

With getting the accession into Schengen and eurozone, there are many complex factors that allow for the official acceptance. Croatia needed a majority from both the European parliament and European Commission, along with all EU member states having unanimous agreement, which would allow for the official transition of Croatia.

With the voting from the European council, the results were as stated, with 543 MEPs in favor, 53 against, and 25 abstaining, which led to the Council having the final say in the big decision. The unanimous vote finally came in December of 2022, with the EU ministers of the council coming to a final consensus and confirming the vote.

There was a bit of resentment from the other regions of Romania and Bulgaria who were denied entry. The main cause of their denied entry was because of the corruption, and illegal migrations concerns, with the two countries.

As Croatia goes for the new milestone, it proves the EU is intact and remains focused despite the recent agressions from Russia in the war against Ukraine. It also deepens the connection with a more connected Europe with the most recent addition to the mix of Croatia.

As the Croatian prime minister, Andrej Plenković proclaimed, “Two strategic goals of a deeper EU integration”.

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