Yesterday (when I started writing this blog) saw another, smallish enlargement: Croatia became the 28th member of the EU and opinion in the country seems rather split. The BBC is trying to concentrate on the rejoicing but other notes sound as well.
But correspondents say enthusiasm for the EU in the country has been dampened by the eurozone crisis, and Croatia's own economic problems.President Josipovic may have been excited and full of joy:
President Josipovic said it was "a great and joyful day for our homeland".Others are a little less happy:
"This the day when we open a new chapter in the thick book of our history," he added.
Earlier he told a meeting of EU and regional leaders: "The accession of Croatia to the European Union is confirmation that each one of us belongs to the European democratic and cultural set of values."
Croatian officials then unveiled EU signs and removed customs posts at the borders with Slovenia, the first former Yugoslav republic to have joined the bloc, and with Hungary.
But with one in five unemployed and Croatia's national debt officially classed as junk, some Croatians feel joining an economic bloc with its own serious troubles will do little to improve their prospects.The Wall Street Journal, which, for reasons unknown refers to the European Union as "Europe's club of democracies" also thinks that the enthusiasm is a little damper than it ought to be:
Still, the public mood here is far from celebratory. The country of 4.4 million is in the throes of a painful recession. Unemployment is more than 20%. And EU membership, once seen as a glittering prize, is now viewed with mounting skepticism. "We don't know what to expect from joining," said Dragutin Bobic, a 54-year-old farmer. "We'd be better off on our own."Others are worried about an invasion of other East European workers though why that should happen in the circumstances is a mystery. The BBC reminded us that the Croatians voted by a large majority in favour of joining this sinking ship and so they did: by 66.27 per cent. Unfortunately, the turn-out was 43.51 per cent but that is the sort of thing we rarely find out from the media. Mind you, that is still better than the first election for the Toy Parliament, which saw a turn-out of 21 per cent.
Croatia's annual economic output per capita is 61% of the EU average. Its government budget deficit exceeds EU limits, and public debt has been rising. The rate of youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe.
Astonishingly enough, Hot Air put up a posting about something that cannot be that important to most Americans and gave all the pros and cons as well.
And on to the next one. Negotiations with Serbia will begin next year. This will not end until there is a complete and total collapse, I am telling you.