Let me start off by welcoming Croatia to the European Union! As Sister Sledge once sang: “We are family, I got all my sisters/brothers with me, We are family, Get up ev’rybody and sing”.
Yes, the family just got bigger, and it is a family with many problems that will have to be overcome by us all.
After WWII, when Europe had been decimated by Hitler and his army, the original six; Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands began the process of creating a union with an aim to prevent another cataclysmic war through trade agreements. After all, those who rely on each other economically are very unlikely to go to war with each other. To this end, Croatia is joining a very successful union.
Brief History of the EU: In 1957, the six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, which extended the earlier co-operation within the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and created the European Economic Community (EEC), establishing a customs union. They also signed another treaty on the same day creating the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for co-operation in developing nuclear energy. Both treaties came into force in 1958.
Some facts about Croatia:
Population: 4.4 million (UN, 2012)
Main language: Croatian
Main religion: Christianity
Area: 56,594 sq km (21,851 sq miles)
GNI per capita: €10,389 (World Bank, 2011)
The EU isn’t without its problems, most notably the Eurozone/Euro crisis that has recently threatened its survival. Add to concerns about Croatian corruption and organised crime among some EU leaders, and the fact that Croatia will not yet join the single currency nor the visa-free Schengen zone and we clearly have to overcome some issues.
But, as President Josipovic said this is “a great and joyful day for our homeland… this the day when we open a new chapter in the thick book of our history,”.
So, mark this day, 1st July 2013- the day Croatia came into the fold. Again, welcome.