Croatia recently joined the European Union. The country's inclusion in the EU comes after a long effort. Croatia has struggled to overcome the economic and social effects of war during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Christopher Cruise provides details.
The sounds of celebration marked the raising of the Croatian flag as it joined the 27 other member flags at EU headquarters on July first. So how will life change for Croatians? James Ker-Lindsay is from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He says new laws passed as part of gaining EU membership have already affected daily life.
"But, of course, it is that sense of actually being there, being part of the club, having that freedom of movement across the European Union."
Full membership means that Croatia will be able to sell its products across the EU without paying export taxes. Nadan Vidosevic is the president of the Croatian Chamber Of Commerce. He says the country is joining the EU with its eyes open.
"We will jump in the cold water and start swimming, you know. But, we decide to jump in the water, because we believe it will be at the end, something that will make pleasure to us. What is the meaning of pleasure, it is the welfare for the citizens of my country."
But after five years of economic crisis in Europe, public opinion studies show Croatians lack excitement about belonging to the EU. Mr. Ker-Lindsay says there is little confidence in EU governance.
"Polls show in actual fact, trust in European institutions is lower in Croatia than even in the United Kingdom, which is really saying something."
Croatia is suffering through its own economic crisis. The EU has already set aside $855 million to help support Croatia this year. The EU money will aid in rebuilding cities like Dubrovnik. In 1991, the Croatian city came under attack from the Yugoslav army and navy.
Croatia's former enemy Serbia and five other Balkan nations also want to be included in the EU. The EU has called for talks on Serbian membership to begin by January.
Croatia will gain availability to the EU market. But EU will also have the Croatian market available. Many observers say uncompetitive businesses will struggle with the competition.
Mr. Ker-Lindsay said many people in southeast Europe were unhappy when the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. He said they believed EU had not done nearly as much as it could have done in the 1990's. But he added that a lot of the area's peace and security currently resulted directly from the process of EU's increased size. He says that is encouraging other candidates for membership, like Serbia. I'm Christopher Cruise.