1 july 2013, and now we’re 28

Its been a long wait, and some now doubt its wisdom, but finally, after many, many years of patiently knocking on the door, getting a foot in and gently pushing it open, croatia today became a member of the european union. I have several times mentioned my own experiences (25 may 2011) in this former yugoslav state, my friends there and its coloured history (26 may 2011). Today, croatia may mean festivals and holidays; but for my generation it will always mean bloody war. Yet, like central europe's accession in 2004, joining the eu really does end one chapter and confirm the page has been turned onto a new one, of sustainable independence in the european mainstream. There is no doubt that the enlargement process, in terms ensuring compliance with the war crimes tribunal, played a wholly positive role; and in a similar way croatia joining will remain a beacon to the rest of the balkans (22 july 2012) for the decade to come, even if the pace is tortuously slow and accession not quite assured. Nor for croatia is economic prosperity assured, far from it. Once upon a time joining the eu meant exactly that; today it is more throwing in problems with the rest of them. For all that though, there are a queue of countries still wanting to join, and a central core determined to go further, faster, and so apart from being a seminal moment in croatia's history, today is also a marker in the union's, showing how life goes on and nothing stands still.