Croatia today became the 28th member of the European Union, following a 10-year period of negotiations.
Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003 and was in negotiations from 2005 until leaders from the EU and Croatia signed an accession treaty on Dec. 9, 2011. Throughout the interim period until accession, Croatia had active observer status, which allowed it to become familiar with the working methods of the EU institutions and to be involved in the decision-making process.
“As new challenges arise, you will discover that membership is not just about respecting and shaping rules, but as much about sharing the responsibility for our common endeavor,” said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, in a written statement to Croatians. “In weather fair and foul, 'for better and for worse,' we must remain united as a union."
Although some Croatians celebrated their nation’s entry into the EU, others remained ambivalent about joining a “divided union mired in crippling debt crisis,” according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, many countries in the EU remain “weary of expansion,” fearing that the bloc will be overstretched and unmanageable.