Croatia ‘ready for euro’

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatia hopes to adopt the euro at the latest three years after joining the European Union, Boris Vujcic, Croatia’s deputy central bank governor, was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Vujcic, who is also the deputy head of the former Yugoslav republic’s EU negotiating team, told the Jutarnji List daily Croatia wanted to join the eurozone in the shortest possible time. «Our financial system is already highly euro-ized and our aim is to adopt the euro as soon as possible. If we join in 2009, we could adopt the euro in 2012,» Vujcic said. Zagreb opened EU membership talks on Tuesday, after a six-month delay over its poor cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal, hoping to conclude them in time to join in 2009. Many observers believe 2010 or 2011 is more realistic. Vujcic said Croatia’s macroeconomy was already sound enough for EU entry. «I do not foresee any major problems for Croatia in terms of our economic condition. We are already on the level of some countries that have joined the EU,» he said. The EU labeled Croatia as having a functioning market economy last year, but it needs to raise competitiveness, overhaul loss-making state firms and cut subsidies.