Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said here on Thursday that he expects his country to be ready to introduce the euro as its official currency on Jan. 1, 2023, APA reports citing Xinhua.
"It will bring advantages to the citizens and the economy. Currency risks and exchange rate-related costs will disappear, interest rates will decline and foreign investments will be encouraged," Plenkovic said during a meeting of the Croatian National Council, noting that there is political support in the European Union (EU) for his country to enter the eurozone in 2023.
In July 2020, Croatia was admitted into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II), a preparatory phase for euro adoption. ERM II members have to meet the nominal convergence criteria set by the Maastricht Treaty, implement reform measures and prepare a national changeover plan.
Plenkovic noted that salaries in countries that have already introduced the euro rose much higher than prices. In Slovenia, which joined the eurozone in 2007, salaries have increased by 48 percent and prices by 26 percent. In Lithuania, the newest member of the eurozone since 2015, salaries jumped 59 percent, while prices only 10 percent. Between 2015 and 2020, salaries increased by nine percent only in Croatia.
The prime minister explained that Croatia expects to see strong five-percent economic recovery in 2021 and 6.6 percent growth in 2022. The country's budget deficit, which reached 7.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, is expected to fall this year to 3.8 percent. The trend, Plenkovic said, is expected to continue in 2022 (2.6 percent of GDP) and in 2023 (1.9 percent).
Integration in the eurozone and the Schengen area are Croatia's strategic priorities, Plenkovic said. During last week's EU summit in Brussels, Plenkovic told reporters that Croatia can achieve these two goals in the next two years, and it has the EU's full support and understanding for both.