A conference titled "Croatia - the 20th member of the Eurozone" was held in Zagreb on Tuesday. Along with top state officials, the conference was also attended by a slew of former finance ministers, two commissioners from Brussels and was addressed via video-link by the head of the European Central Bank.
In his address to the conference Prime Minister Andrej Plenković emphasized the benefits of Croatia becoming a member of the Eurozone. But he also took the time to admonish businesses for unjustly raising their prices during the transition away from the Kuna: "Government was engaged in this entire process in good faith. Good faith is a very important principle. If you are in the public service you don't do something with the intent of harming someone, instead you do what is good for all citizens and the economy. In this context, it is important that all participants behave responsibly. That they do not adopt the practice of using the broader context of inflationary pressures to round up their prices to reap unjustified and massive profits to the detriment of our citizens."
European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, also commented on the so-called unjust raising of prices by businesses in Croatia. Dombrovskis argued that the Croatian Government had done a good job in reacting to the situation: "We believe the Croatian authorities have put effective measures in place to minimize the risk of unjustified price increases. One important way of insuring transparency is parallel displayed prices in Kuna and Euro. The voluntary code of business ethics is another. And the Croatian authorities can also carry out inspections and may impose fines on businesses that raise prices without reason."
For his part Commissioner Gentiloni maintained that the Euro would be de-inflationary: "I think that the message that the Croatia Authorities are giving is easy to understand. Inflation is a common problem. We have to commit to avoid abusive increases of prices, and overall the introduction of the single currency of the Euro, will also help to reduce inflation and to reduce prices."
Meanwhile, the Governor of the Croatian National Bank, Boris Vujčić, noted the benefits that Eurozone membership has for Croatia, especially in terms of monetary policy and financing: "As of January 1st we became a part of the Euro-system. Which means that we are now an active participant in the defining of our joint monetary policy of the second most important currency area in the world. What's more, our voice on the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, is disproportionately larger than the size of our country. For the first time in history, we are in a position to influence the conditions for financing in the Eurozone and consequently in Croatia."
Speaking via video-link, the president of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde, said that the Euro is a source of stability and security for Croatia: "The single currency also binds us together internally. It bolsters trade and prevents exchange rate swings from becoming a source of tensions between countries. Supporting the single market from which we will prosper. In a world where we are likely to face a higher frequency of global shocks, from geo-politics, to energy, to climate change, the role of the Euro as an anchor of stability on our continent has never been more important."
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