Croatia joined borderless Schengen and adopted the euro.
EU’s youngest member dubbed the measures “great successes.”
Croatia is the 20th country to join, allowing 400 million people to travel freely.
Croatia is starting a momentous year as it joins the EU’s borderless Schengen region and abandons the kuna in favor of the euro.
When it joined the EU in 2013, the nation made a commitment to joining the eurozone.
Nationalist parties sought to preserve the kuna, but the constitutional court disallowed their request.
It is the twenty-seventh nation to join the Schengen region, which permits 400 million people to travel freely inside it.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the changes as “two immense achievements” for the youngest member state of the EU.
She said 1 January – when the changes officially happened – would be a day “for the history books”.
Above all, this would be a moment of “joy and pride for the Croatian people”, she said.
“It is testimony of your amazing journey, your hard work and your determination.”
Croatia’s Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, said on Sunday the country – a former Yugoslav republic that fought a war of independence in the 1990s – had “achieved its strategic, state and political goals” by the two historic changes.
He was speaking at a ceremony at the Bregana border crossing with neighboring Slovenia, where passports will no longer be routinely checked.
Mr. Plenkovic 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“.
The expansion of Croatia’s tourism sector, which contributes 20% of the country’s GDP and receives millions of tourists annually, is anticipated to follow the country’s entry into the Schengen area.
Border crossings with Slovenia and Hungary should no longer have the lengthy lines they once did.
The euro is already widely used in the nation; significant assets like homes are valued in the currency, and a sizable portion of bank accounts are as well.
According to experts, switching to the euro should protect Croatia’s economy during a time of global inflation.
The euro was introduced as an electronic currency on January 1, 1999, and on January 1, 2002, it was recognized as legal tender for nearly 300 million people in 12 member states.
There are currently 20 nations in the eurozone as a result of Croatia.
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