On Tuesday, Members of the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of Croatia becoming the newest member of the eurozone from 1 January next year, however, support in the country itself has been dwindling.
The parliament formally adopted the report of Siegfried Mureșan, a member of the Romanian Partidul Naţional Liberal, stating that Croatia fulfils all the criteria for switching from its currency, the kuna, to the euro from next year onwards, which would make it the 20th member of the zone.
“The reforms undertaken by the Croatian Government in the last years have strengthened the economy and paved the way for Croatia joining the common currency," the Chair of the EP’s euro working group, Margarida Marques, said in a statement.
"It is clear that becoming a member of the euro is the right decision for the country, its businesses and citizens, as well as various sectors of its economy, such as tourism," Marques added.
The EP's report stressed that it expected "sustained efforts" from the Croatian government to ensure that the introduction of the euro does not lead to artificial price increases, but added that the country is ready to adopt the euro despite the pandemic, high inflation and the economic fallout of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
This statement, however, seems to be in stark contrast with the opinion of people living in Croatia, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey, which showed that just 37% of respondents think that the country is ready to adopt the euro, while 58% think that it is not.
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In the last year, support for the introduction of the unified currency dropped by 7% (from 62% to 55%), mainly as they fear rising prices as a result of it (81%). This was mirrored by former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, who warned in a recent interview that the coming months will be "very hard," with rising prices and falling living standards.
She added that joining the eurozone at the start of next year could be "fatal for many," and that experts in the country should consider all the aspects of adopting the euro.
The European Parliament’s opinion will now be forwarded to Eurozone members, who will have to give the final clearance for Croatia to adopt the euro.