President Traian Basescu led the countdown and it was official! Romania has joined the European Union. Bulgaria too entered the EU as the new year began, while on an historic day for the bloc Slovenia entered the euro zone – becoming the first ex-communist country to do so. In Bucharest the EU flag was raised over official buildings. Basescu described it as a moment of a great freedom.
In Bulgaria too there were lavis parties to celebrate the occasion, with the EU anthem Ode to Joy blasting out into the Sofia night skies. The European Union now numbers 27 countries. Many worry whether such a large organisation can take effective decisions – but for tonight at any rate the mood was one of a celebration.