Last week, Croatia held a public referendum asking citizens if they wanted to join the European Union. By a nearly two-to-one margin, the answer was yes, with approximately 47% eligible voters turning out. While numbers like that wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary in America, it’s actually pretty low by European standards. Regardless of the low turn out, it could potentially pave the way for other countries in the Balkans who someday hope to join.
What does this mean for Croatia? There are the obvious things, like the fact that Croatia will need to change their currency over to the Euro. There are other financial implications as well. Fewer restrictions on the borders should help international business within the Union, however there is no guarantee. Hopefully, with some good timing and well managed planning, Croatia will be able to turn around their economy. Unemployment is currently at 17% in this Balkan country of 4.2 million, and Croats are hopeful that EU membership will help turn that around.
What is the Schengen Area?
One of the most important changes comes in the fact that Croatia will now be a part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is made up of the countries in Europe that signed what is known as the Schengen Agreement in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg. What it essentially does is make travel within the European Union easier by eliminating old border rules and having a set guide that all EU member states adhere to. This is why you are often able to travel seamlessly between most European countries. Another function is to guarantee the consistency of borders with non-member nations. The Schengen Agreement also requires hotels and other kinds of accommodation to register foreign citizens, allowing states to decide what kind of information they want to include on registration forms.
Perhaps the most positive way that this can help Croatia is by increasing the amount of visitors. One industry that has been growing over the past few decades in Croatia is tourism. Anyone who has been there will tell you this should come as no surprise. The country boasts over 3,500 miles of coastline and over 1,000 islands on the Adriatic Sea. Its location means you’ll find delicious fresh seafood from street vendors to fine dining experiences. Croatia has one of the richest histories of anywhere in the world. Over the past several thousand years, Croatia has been occupied by Romans, Greeks, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, just to name a few. Its ancient cities are beautiful, and have a vibe that is unmatched in Europe. The walled city of Dubrovnik is like no other in the world, and truly must be experienced firsthand to appreciate how unique it is. Now is a good a time as any to check it out. See more of the country with a rental car in Croatia on your next European vacation!