On 1st of May 2004 the biggest enlargement in the history of European Union took place. 10 countries: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta joined the EU structures hoping for a better future.
Divisions caused by the Iron Curtain and Cold War made the process of unification long but not impossible. After many years of negotiations and hard works on adjusting mainly economies of 10 countries, it was officially stated that they could become members of the EU.
If one asks about advantages: it is enough to mention that thanks to this accession there is no longer a question if the Central-Eastern Europe belongs more to the East or to the West. It is politically justified that citizens of new member countries can feel 100% Europeans.
To add, citizens of member countries can travel free across almost all Europe. Several programs which help youths and adults to get to know other cultures, languages and simply enable the long-term integration amongst European nations, are launched.
Leaving behind the cultural aspect, there are several topics which are not so obvious anymore. Taking into account the economics, internal and external politics and considering each other’s rights for self-determination it is not so simple to write a glorification of these issues. It is worth to admit that so called ‘new members’ can apply for structural funds of EU. The amount was negotiated amongst countries and not always was satisfying their citizens. Moreover, becoming a member of the EU each country had to accept its rules: limits on production, higher than in other countries standards on products etc.
Taking into account all, there is no question if entering the EU was a good choice. There was no other way to switch from the East to the West. It is important though to think about all consequences and to have a plan for the future.