'We will have to learn to live with each other'

Click to follow

For my business, Slovakia entering the EU is a good thing. We should have more visitors. People are afraid that prices will rise, but our incomes, I hope, will also rise. There are some people who would like to travel and work in the West but there are many more who would prefer to build their businesses and live their lives at home.

Tom Veme, 30, from Kosice, Slovakia, owner of a car-hire company

For my business, Slovakia entering the EU is a good thing. We should have more visitors. People are afraid that prices will rise, but our incomes, I hope, will also rise. There are some people who would like to travel and work in the West but there are many more who would prefer to build their businesses and live their lives at home.

Barbara Pokorna, 27, from Prague, Czech Republic, secretary

At first, I was delighted that we were joining the EU. Now, quite frankly, I, like most people, don't care. The new rules that restrict our right to travel to the West to work have spoiled it for us. I was hoping to work in the Netherlands. At first, the Dutch seemed to say that there would be no problem. Now they have changed their minds.

Kristina Vilimaide, 29, Lithuanian ecologist

I'm happy at the possibility to work abroad and travel more freely. I'm concerned about the agricultural policies of the EU. Lithuania has a valuable agricultural tradition which has preserved many aspects of our ecology. I am worried that the funds from the EU could change all of this. For us, joining shows how far we have come from the Soviet era.

Stanislav Michalik, 74, Polish, retired factory worker

It is good news. Membership of the EU will improve the Polish economy because more people will come here and will spend money. There is a great deal of unemployment here and young people will be keen to go abroad to work. We have many things to offer the EU: we have good craftsmen and our workers are well educated and trained.

Martins Ritins, 46, owner and head chef of Vincents restaurant in Riga, Latvia

I am so excited about it. There are now going to be more fantastic opportunities. We will no longer be isolated like we were in the past. I feel now that, politically, the big bad wolf won't be able to get his claws into us again. From a professional point of view, our economy, and my business, is going to grow.

Uku Kuut, IT consultant, Estonia

I'm enjoying watching all this, although I guess nothing really happens till next week. But it's great, a long struggle to get here. Estonia was already similar to other European countries before the official entry. It's clear that we've taken sides with the Western democratic countries and our neighbours will have to accept us as Europeans.

Greek Cypriot Antonis Farmakas, 33, photographer

The EU is security for us and this is a big deal after so many years outside. We want to be part of the family with its laws, its balances and the protection it offers. European justice and human rights are the big issue for us.This feeling of security and belonging is what gave Cypriots the confidence to vote "no" [in the poll on the UN peace plan].

Marta Fzigeti Bonifert, 49, executive director, Hungarian

We had a family debate about joining the EU and we agreed it's like finishing school and getting your diploma. But you still have to go into the world and make it happen. I think it's also like a marriage with all the preparation and now the wedding night has come. After the honeymoon we will have to learn to live with each other and make things work.

Urban Sila, 25, student, Slovenia

Consumers will benefit from more choice of products and hopefully some good Slovenian firms will survive. We have been developing economically for the past 10 to 14 years and I think we are prepared for the open market, but some smaller companies will not be able to compete. If the EU agenda is to bring peace to the regions, then becoming part of this project is great - even if is difficult to achieve.

Maurice Grech, dean of engineering, University of Malta

"The EU will mean opportunities for students, academics, researchers, industry and the environment. Overall, Malta will become a better country, because it will have to stick to regulations that call for better-quality products and safer labour conditions. One of the most important things is that the opportunities that the EU offers are exploited."

Comments