Blue-and-gold EU flags fluttered and fireworks thundered in Romania and Bulgaria at midnight, as the two Balkan nations became the latest countries to join the European Union.
"It was hard, but we arrived at the end of the road. It is the road of our future. It is the road of our joy," Romanian President Traian Basescu said, prompting cheers from a crowd of tens of thousands of revelers packed into University Square.
"We arrived in Europe. Welcome to Europe," Basescu said from a stage, where he was joined by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and government ministers. Foreign ministers of Germany, Denmark, Austria and Hungary, also attending, wished Romanian citizens a Happy New Year. Officials were flying later Monday to Bulgaria for celebrations there.
Romania and Bulgaria bring 30 million new members to the union, and expand the number of member nations in the bloc to 27.