Fifth Anniversary of Joining the EU Posted by on Apr 30, 2009 in Culture, History

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the enlargement of the European Union. Yes, it’s been five years already since the day Poland joined “Europe”. This, and the swine flu seem to dominate the news today. But, frankly, people are more interested in the flu than in the anniversary. It’s amazing how quickly we learn to take such momentous events for granted.

I asked a few random people about how much their lives have changed since Poland became a member of the EU. Their answers certainly gave me food for thought. Younger kids (well, I call them kids, anyone younger than 30 is a kid to me, OK?) don’t seem to remember any other Poland than this European one. If you’re 20, five years is a very long time indeed. They are too busy planning their studies abroad to have time to ponder how quickly the fortunes of Poland had turned.

Then, there are those who kvetch that the EU is highly over-rated. That life was better in the olden days. As you can imagine, this is a somewhat older generation.

Personally, if someone had told me twenty years ago that one day a Polish passport would be a highly coveted commodity, I would have laughed myself silly. But this day is here now. And I’m definitely not laughing anymore.

Poland has been changing so fast that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. And it shows no signs of slowing down. The next step – adopting the euro. When it will happen, I don’t know. Do I think it’s a good idea to join the eurozone? I’m not so sure. But I am sure that we will adapt. If anything, the last ten and five years showed the amazing resilience and adaptability of our country.

Many in Poland complain that Poles are not very flexible and open to changes. I disagree. And anyone, who’s been looking at the country from the outside, can confirm my opinion. I see nothing but constant changes. Not always for the better, but that’s how we learn. We’ve been in the EU for only five years. During this time we had no choice but to achieve what took older members many more years. True, Poland is a work a progress and we still have a long way to go. But at least we are going and getting somewhere. So, happy fifth anniversary Poland!

Have a wonderful long weekend, enjoy the glorious weather, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

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  1. Phil Gyford:

    Hi Anna.

    My first trip to Poland was in 1993 for a 3 week holiday. First impressions were that it remimded me of England in the early 1950s, Every thing basic and about 40 years behind Western Europe.

    Last year I did a repeat visit to Sanok, it was one of the first places I visited in 1993. The town square had changed from a dirty, scruffy car park into a beautiful paved square with fountains in one corner, an outside drinking/eating area and half the population of Sanok (it seemed) appeared to be just walking and relaxing in the square.

    All of this happened in 15 years and it is happening all over the country. Warsaw is becoming a place to visit and not just a place to pass through on the way to see Krakow or Gdansk.

    To me Poland is the Centre of Europe and Eastern Europe is farther to the east. The biggest negative I see with the EU is the push to standardise things over the whole of Europe and destroy the reasons why people travel to see these countries.

    Each country of the EU is unique in its traditions and way of life and if these things are destroyed then the reason to visit is diminished.

  2. khrystene:

    A lot has changed.

    Happy 5th Anniversary! 😉