Croatia's big day: Balkan nation adopts euro and joins Schengen zone

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By Euronews
Borders opened in Croatia
Borders opened in Croatia   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Darko Bandic

Croatia has officially adopted the euro as its currency, becoming the 20th European Union member state to do so.

The Balkan nation joined the EU nearly a decade ago, but had to wait until now to qualify as a Eurozone country.

After the clock struck midnight, Finance Minister Marko Primorac and National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić pulled out the first euro notes from a Croatian cash machine.

Meanwhile, the last driver to have their passport checked on the Croatia-Slovenia border was handed a congratulatory teddy bear.

Croatia has now also entered the Schengen zone - permitting open transport between participating countries - and that means frontier identity checks are now a thing of the past.

Experts say the adoption of the euro will help shield Croatia's economy at a time when inflation is soaring worldwide after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent food and fuel prices through the roof. But feelings among Croatians are mixed -- while they welcome the end of border controls, some worry about the euro switch, with right-wing opposition groups saying it only benefits large countries such as Germany and France.