15th Apr 2024


After Croatia, who's next for the euro?

  • Following the currency's debt crisis in 2009, the economies of Greece, Spain, and Portugal were shaken to their core. The euro's very survival came under threat (Photo: Valentina Pop)
Listen to article

The euro, once seen as the next great step in the European project, has undergone a tumultuous and fraught existence since its inception in 1999. Following the currency's debt crisis in 2009, the economies of Greece, Spain, and Portugal were shaken to their core. The euro's very survival came under threat. Only through the joint commitment and perseverance of its member states did the currency survive.

However, with its survival came a price. A reputation of disrepute and scepticism spread across the continent, held by members of the public, businesses and politicians alike. Only now is the criticism and worry that has so long lingered beside the euro beginning to fade.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • If the Law & Justice party of Jarosław Kaczyński is defeated by a more moderate, pro-European coalition this November, the eurozone could be looking at gaining one of Europe's largest economies (Photo: Piotr Drabik)

Its survival is no longer in doubt. Its own financial mechanisms continue to improve, and its strength on the global stage stands tall beside the dollar and yen. With Croatia joining the common currency club last month, 10 years after it became the EU's newest member, and Bulgaria still hoping to follow suit next year, the question is now surely who will look to join next?

Enlargement headcount

To date, seven EU member states currently remain outside of the currency bloc.

Although Sweden and Denmark both hold formidable and well-adapted economies, there is no current appetite amongst their public or politicians to expand the euro's use further north. Therefore, the most likely cases for future accession lie in central & southern Europe.

Bulgaria is still aiming for accession in 2024, providing its fractured parliament can pull together some rag-tag coalition in time for the switchover. Even if it is unable to meet its initial target date, most major parties agree on the desire for euro-accession in the coming years.

Across the rest of central & southern Europe's non-euro nations, the picture is still muddy, but signs of change are showing. As businesses continue to return to the new normal following the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic, and the fallout of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the idea of a common currency appears to be in vogue once more.

Businesses across the region, including Czech auto giant Skoda, have finally taken the plunge of operating their business transactions in euros instead of local Korunas. Rising inflation has also battered individual currencies more than the combined strength of the euro, something that businesses have been closely watching as the cost of living crisis continues.

Public opinion has also finally begun shifting increasingly in favour of adoption. The most recent eurobarometer from April 2022 showed 44 percent of Czechs, 60 percent of Poles, 70 percent of Hungarians, and an astounding 77 percent of Romanians were in favour of single-currency adoption. Ten years ago such support, especially from the more sceptical central European nations, would have baffled observers.

In the halls of power across the region, so too is the discussion finally coming back to the fold. The Czech Republic's incoming president, Petr Pavel, is an open advocate for euro adoption. Although constricted politically by his ceremonial role, his election could be the first domino to fall in any potential euro adoption by the country.


A change in government following this year's general election in Poland could also lead to new discussions on joining the bloc. If PiS is defeated by a more moderate, pro-European coalition this November, the eurozone could be looking at gaining one of Europe's largest economies.

Although still nowhere near looking towards adopting the currency soon, the increasingly isolated Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban has begun softening its often heavily critical stance towards the euro. What this change of tone could mean for Hungary's potential accession to the currency club is hard to foresee. What it does represent however, is the broader opinion shift by those in office towards the common currency.

Nonetheless, adoption should not be rushed. At the moment no potential future member gets close to meeting the required acquis, nor are many central governments focusing on such a discussion during a cost of living crisis that shows little sign of abating.

Croatia's recent adoption also reminded prospective member states of the advantages, as well as the risks, both political and economic, of joining the currency club. Price 'roundups' by businesses that sought to take advantage of the switchover, alongside discussions surrounding whether the government actually had support from the majority of the public, have muddied Zagreb's accession.

This is not to say that Croatia was wrong to join. The country will now benefit from a shared economic and currency zone with many of its neighbours, and with simultaneously joining the border-free Schengen zone, its rapidly growing tourism industry will look to take advantage from the currency switch through more streamlined Euro-based transactions.

Convincing the public, businesses, and politicians that there is any 'right' time to switch currencies is no easy feat. This is not to say that it is impossible. After years of internal and external doubt towards its long-term survivability, the euro is finally standing tall, ready to compete globally.

Non-members should not be rushed into joining anytime soon. But with possibly two new members in two years signing up, the time is now for discussions to finally begin anew across central & southern Europe on prospective accession. Whisper it for now, but the Euro is back in fashion.

Author bio

Cameron MacBride is a Scottish freelance journalist, attached to the Post-Conflict Research Centre in Sarajevo.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

Romania most keen to join eurozone

The survey was carried out in seven member states that have not yet adopted the single currency: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden. Denmark has decided not to join, having negotiated an opt-out.


Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign

I am not sleeping well, tossing and turning at night because I am obsessed about the EU election campaign, worried by geopolitical tensions, a far-right next parliament, and a backlash against the Green Deal, writes Sophie Aujean of Fairtrade International.

Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  2. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  3. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign
  4. Brussels venue ditches far-right conference after public pressure
  5. How German police pulled the plug on a Gaza conference
  6. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  7. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  8. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us