Croatia rings in New Year as fully integrated EU member
Agencies | Zagreb
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
At the stroke of midnight on Saturday, Croatia switched to the shared European currency, the euro, and removed dozens of border checkpoints to join the world’s largest passport-free travel area.
It marked a fresh start for the small Balkan nation of 4 million people that captured international attention three decades ago as the site of a brutal war that left nearly a quarter of its economy in ruins.
Joining Europe’s ID-check-free Schengen zone means Croats will now be among almost 420 million people who are free to roam its 27 member countries without passports for work or leisure, reports AP.
Adopting the euro will likewise offer Croatia the benefits stemming from deeper financial ties with the currency’s 19 other users and with the European Central Bank.
It will also make traveling and doing business easier, removing the hassle of currency exchange for Croats going abroad and for tens of thousands of tourists who visit their country each year for work or to enjoy its stunning Adriatic coastline.
As revelers around Croatia took to the streets to ring in the New Year, the country’s interior minister, Davor Bozinovic, was at the Bregana border crossing with Slovenia to wish the best of luck to the last travelers to have their passports checked there.
Slovenia has been a part of the Schengen zone and tasked with safeguarding its external frontier since 2007.
Now, the task will be taken over by Croatia, which will continue to apply strict border controls on its eastern borders with non-EU neighbors Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.