Yesterday Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union. In doing so joined Europe’s great experiment in free trade and free immigration across diverse languages, beliefs, and cultures. The EU is not without its issues, but creating a large open borders region across Europe has not been the reason countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland have gotten into trouble.
Croatia is currently looking at a 18% unemployment rate and increasing options to move to a country like Germany with its 5% rate should be welcome. There are limitations still in place however. Croats won’t be able to go work in the United Kingdom for another seven years, and the country won’t enter the passport-less Schengen Area until 2015 at the earliest. Part of being able to do means clamping down harder on the country’s borders with countries outside the EU, a process that will require some significant investments.
Joining the EU probably won’t solve all Croatia’s current woes. But every person from Croatia who gets to try life somewhere else in Europe, and every European who finds a place to live or work in Croatia is a little improvement in the world. And every time a country opens itself up to freer migration without causing disaster the empirical case for open borders gets just a little stronger.