Croatia to join euro area
Croatia is introducing euro cash on 1 January 2023, making it the 20th Member State of the euro area. The country’s approximately 3.9 million inhabitants will use the euro to make payments as from then. Visitors from other euro area countries will no longer have to exchange their euro in advance for Croatia’s current national currency, the kuna (HRK). In 2021, more than 10 million people spent their holidays in the country on the Adriatic Sea.
From the kuna to the euro
However, part of the kuna’s legacy will be preserved. The Croatian €1 coin will display a marten (kuna in Croatian). This motif was adopted from kuna coins. It serves as a reminder that, in the Middle Ages, marten pelts were used as a means of payment in the territory of what is now Croatia. Incidentally, the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins bear the portrait of the engineer Nikola Tesla, whose birthplace is located in present-day Croatia. The Croatian government unveiled the design of the national sides of its euro coins at the beginning of 2022. Kuna banknotes can be exchanged free of charge at all Bundesbank branches from 1 January 2023 to 28 February 2023 at the fixed conversion rate of €1 = HRK 7.53450. There will be a cap of HRK 8,000 per person per day for such transactions.
An exchange by post at Deutsche Bundesbank is not possible. Customers with larger volumes of banknotes can contact the Croatian National Bank (HRVATSKA NARODNA BANKA), Trg hrvatskih velikana 3, HR-10000 Zagreb (www.hnb.hr) or Franje Račkog 5, 10002 Zagreb (cash desk of the Croatian National Bank).
Until 31 December 2023 kuna banknotes and coins can be exchanged for euro banknotes and coins in Croatia at post offices, commercial banks and the Financial Agency only. Up to a maximum of 100 kuna banknotes and 100 kuna coins per transaction can be exchanged free of charge. For the exchange of a larger number of banknotes or coins, commercial banks may charge a fee.
As of January 2024 Croatia’s national central bank will take over the exchange services for kuna banknotes without a time limit, and will exchange coins until 31 December 2025. This service is free of charge.
Croatia in the euro area
The euro area has been in existence since 1999 and represents a coalition of European Union (EU) Member States in the field of monetary policy. Croatia acceded to the EU on 1 July 2013. With the exception of Denmark, all Member States are obliged to also join the euro area once they meet the four convergence criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty.
Both the ECB and the European Commission concluded, in their separate Convergence Reports of 1 June 2022, that Croatia had met the four criteria. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said that Croatia’s accession “will make Croatia’s economy stronger, bringing benefits to its citizens, businesses and society at large. Croatia’s adoption of the euro will also make the euro stronger.” On the basis of the European Commission’s Convergence Report, the Council of the European Union decides on whether a Member State meets the conditions for accession to the euro area. On 12 July 2022, the Council concluded the procedure, thereby paving the way for Croatia to join.
Changes resulting from accession
To date, Croatia has only been a member of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), which comprises the ECB and the national central banks of all EU Member States. Upon accession to the euro area, Croatia will now become part of the Eurosystem, which comprises the ECB and the central banks of those countries that have already adopted the euro as their currency. Hence, on 1 January 2023, Boris Vujčić, Governor of the Croatian National Bank, will become the newest addition to the Governing Council of the ECB. The Croatian National Bank has its headquarters in Zagreb, the national capital of Croatia. Mr Vujčić has been in his position there since 2012. As a member of the Governing Council of the ECB, he will henceforth be involved in the making of Eurosystem monetary policy.
Croatia’s accession to the euro area will also alter the capital key according to which the euro area national central banks contribute to the ECB’s capital. Based on the capital key, each EU national central bank is allocated a certain percentage share. This share determines, for instance, how asset purchases under the ECB’s programmes are allocated among central banks. The capital key is calculated based on the size of the Member State, measured in terms of that country’s population and gross domestic product.