For some, the mere idea of the introduction of the euro in Croatia is enough to induce passionate debate. For others, the introduction of the single European currency is the next step to leaving the country’s tumultuous past behind, and joining the ”ever closer union” that Eurocrats in Brussels speak so highly of. While the United Kingdom managed to secure a way out of the currency’s introduction much earlier, Croatia had to agree to take on the euro in order to join the bloc.
Introducing the euro in Croatia is likely to bring problems as well as solve them, but what use is the adoption of the single currency when many of Croatia’s national institutions are in total disarray? Until state institutions can be brought into line, the introduction of the euro and the overhaul that involves will only work to contribute to existing issues, rather than help to solve them.
As Ana Blaskovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of January, 2019, just over a year after the announcement of the Croatian Government’s intention to introduce the euro, encouraged by positive signals from Europe, Croatia will send a letter of intent to enter the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) by the summer. The aforementioned mechanism is known as the ”waiting room” for a country’s introduction of the euro as its currency. Although the letter is only the first formal step in the process of replacing the kuna with the formerly problematic single currency, its content is not merely a pleasant yet rather empty formality.
The letter will involve the Croatian Government agreeing on a series of concrete reform moves, in a relatively short period of about a year. “The ball is now in the government’s court to make a list of moves that can be completed within a year, within the gauge that they’re achievable, easily measurable, and are written in the letter of intent,” an interlocutor close to the central bank told Poslovni Dnevnik.
Judging by the Bulgarian version of the letter that Sofia officially sent to a number of European Union addresses at the end of July, the answer to the question of what exactly Andreja Plenković’s government could or should put on paper doesn’t need great philosophical effort put into it. There is already a list of specific recommendations from Brussels for the Republic of Croatia.
Reforms is a word that everyone in Croatia gets sick of hearing, and this next political move involves a well-known series of infamous reforms, the implementation of which has been largely shifted to ”next year”. The euro in Croatia however, demands certain reforms be met, and sooner rather than later.
For example, there are administration reforms (including those regarding salaries), reforms to the utterly bizarre Croatian justice system, the establishing of a more just system of social benefits and rights, the strengthening of the fiscal framework, and the introduction of property taxes, a controversial idea which Plenković has moved around quite a lot on.
“The European Commission supports member states’ efforts to introduce the euro, not only politically, but in also providing the necessary technical assistance and potential financial resources,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, adding that Croatia is very serious in its intentions and is working intensively to meet the conditions for its eventual entry into the eurozone. One of the panelists at that conference was the Croatian National Bank’s Boris Vujčić, which is also regarded by all as a firm sign of Croatia’s support.
“The most difficult thing to do is to enter the ERM II, because there are no clear criteria that a country needs to meet in order to enter the exchange rate mechanism. Once you’re in the ERM, the criteria for introducing the euro is clear, although some of it is constantly changing, so you do need a bit of luck on your side in order to be able to fulfil it,” said Latvia’s governer. One thing is certain, unlike the correspondence Croatia has had with the European Commission until now (primarily concerning becoming a member of the EU), the rules for a country’s adoption of the euro are much stricter.
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Click here for the original article by Ana Blaskovic for Poslovni Dnevnik