Croatia is celebrating two historic events. First, its border checkpoint with Slovenia is no more. Free passage between Croatia and Slovenia was established on January 1, 2023, as Croatia joined the Schengen Area, the largest area of free movement of persons (and goods) worldwide.
In the second historic event, Croatia became the 20th member of the eurozone this year – 10 years after entering the European Union (EU) in 2013. This currency agency is key to smoothing monetary transactions throughout the EU.
Andrej Plenkovic, Croatia’s Prime Minister, said that Schengen membership would “mean a lot for Croatia as a tourist country, which is to a large extent a destination where tourists travel by car.” He added that “the fact that we will also be in the eurozone gives another signal to all those visiting Croatia.”
According to Plenkovic, Croatia — formerly a Yugoslav Republic — fought for independence in the 1990s and has “achieved its strategic, state and political goals” as a result of the two historic changes.
Croatia And Slovenia Celebrate The Open Border
Plenkovic spoke at a ceremony at the Bregana border crossing with neighboring Slovenia. At midnight on December 31, 2022, Croatian and Slovenian officials raised their countries’ barriers and flipped on green lights to indicate free passage at the former checkpoint.
At the border, Croatia’s Interior Minister, Davor Božinović, said that “tonight’s act was more than the lifting of border checks: it is the final affirmation of our European identity, which generations of Croats had fought for and in the end achieved.”
The Schengen Area
The Schengen Area includes all members of the EU except Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, and the Republic of Ireland. In addition, four countries that are not EU members — Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway — are part of the Schengen Area. The agreements that define the Schengen Area allow 400 million people to move freely between countries.
Croatia Joined The EU
Croatia committed to joining the eurozone when the country became an EU member in 2013. With this year’s addition of Croatia to the eurozone, there are now 20 countries in the organization. In Croatia, the euro is already in widespread use. It’s expected that officially moving to the euro will help protect Croatia’s economy at a time of worldwide inflation.
What Do These Events Mean For Travelers?
Travelers no longer need to show ID to enter Croatia from another Schengen Area country. This includes visitors from 22 EU countries. Tourists, who mainly travel across Europe by car, will no longer experience long lines of cars waiting to cross.
The switch to euros means travelers have an easier time with monetary standards as they move from one country to the next. In addition, membership in the EU boosts Croatia’s ability to enhance traveler experiences, promote cultural and sustainable travel, increase accessible travel, and expand low-season tourism.
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