Croatia joins the EU today [Monday] and is the 28th member of the European Union. The country – which has a slightly smaller population than Scotland with four and a half million people – will now have as big a say in European affairs as Germany, France or the UK and will be able to gain advantages in European negotiations.
Croatia will retain its own currency - the European Commission said “It should be noted that is up to individual countries to calibrate their path towards the euro, and no timetable is prescribed." It won't be joining the Schengen Area for the foreseeable future, either, although customs controls at Croatia's borders will be gone as from today as they are in the UK.
Welcoming the latest member of the EU, Alyn Smith MEP said:
“A huge welcome to Croatia on becoming part of the European family of nations. It was involved in a bitter war only twenty years ago but is now a modern, forward-looking young democracy on course to improve the lives of its people. I look forward to welcoming the 12 new Croatian MEPs to the European Parliament.
“The country has gone from strength to strength since independence, growing its economy, establishing itself as a nation, cementing justice and human rights at the centre of its democratic intent, and marking itself out as a nation in tune with European values.
“Aligning its laws to EU law and bringing its economic and trading rules in line with EU rules – like Scotland has – meant that Croatia was accepted unanimously and will slip easily into the EU’s working. Croats now have access to Single Market, with all the benefits that brings.
“Twelve Croatian MEPs will take their seats in Parliament, Croatian Ministers will negotiate in Council, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic will represent his country in meetings with the leaders of other EU nations, and Neven Mimica will be Croatia’s first EU Commissioner.
“The European Union is about removing borders and bringing citizens closer together, opening up opportunities. That’s why I look forward to an Scotland taking its seat as an independent, constructive member to the benefit of our people.”