Croatia welcomes the new year by joining Eurozone and Schengen area

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By Euronews  with EFE
New Croatian euro coin depicting scientist Nikola Tesla is showcased at the Croatian central bank.
New Croatian euro coin depicting scientist Nikola Tesla is showcased at the Croatian central bank.   -   Copyright  AP

In the new year, Croatia will become the latest country to join the Eurozone and the Schengen area, a move that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says makes the European Union stronger.

As of Sunday, the country will "join a community of 347 million Europeans who use the euro in their daily lives," von der Leyen said in a statement.

"This is a great achievement for Croatia. A symbol of its deep-rooted attachment to the EU, and a symbolic moment for the euro area as a whole."

She added: "It is a proud moment for the EU, Croatia and its citizens."

More than half of the country’s ATMs are offline to prepare them for dispensing the currency.

The Croatian Kuna and the Euro will co-exist for a short transitional period of just 14 days.

"It’s good to have some cash on you because the banking system will be in transition over the weekend,” Boris Vujčić, the governor of the Croatian National Bank, warned.

“Consequently, neither cards nor internet banking will be operational, so it is good to have some cash just in case. On 2 January, everything should be functioning normally.”

Croatia will also become the first country to join the Schengen zone in 11 years. The move will allow people to travel freely between it and EU member countries without border controls.

But it could also mean a heightening of security along its borders with its non-EU nations, such as Bosnia and Serbia.