May 18, 2019 / 6:43 PM / a month ago

Merkel says Croatia's euro ambitions very realistic

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the European People's Party (EPP) and the Croatian Democratic Union's (HDZ) campaign rally for the European Parliament elections in Zagreb, Croatia, May 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

ZAGREB (Reuters) - German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday Croatia was well on track to join the European common currency by 2024, citing the youngest EU member’s economic development.

“The main economic indicators in Croatia are pointing in this direction,” Merkel said after meeting Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb.

Merkel said she regards Croatia’s ambition, “namely the Euro accession during the next period ... as very realistic”, referring to the EU commission’s next legislative period through 2024.

There was still a lot to be done but the country was well on track, she added.

Croatia aims to launch its bid to join the euro zone within two months and will commit to further modernizing its economy and cutting debt as part of the accession process, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said this week.

That process is expected to take the youngest member of the European Union at least four years to complete. The first formal step will be to enter the bloc’s waiting room, the European Exchange Mechanism (ERM-2), for a minimum of two years during which Croatia’s kuna currency must prove its stability.

Croatia hopes to join the ERM-2 in 2020.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian

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