Discussion on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the EU enlargement
02.06.2014 / 18:30
Consulate General of the Czech Republic in NYC organized a Panel discussion to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the EU enlargement, which in May 2004 involved 10 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This event was held at the Bohemian National Hall on Thursday, May 29th, 2014 with the presence of panelists from the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia and it was attended by about 90 guests.
The event was officially opened by the Czech Consul General Mr. Martin Dvořák who pointed out the importance of EU membership for all our countries, from the point of view of security as well as the economic development. The discussion was then moderated by the Deputy Consul General Stanislav Beneš.
The panelists represented five of the ten countries that became members of the EU in 2004:
- Mr. Jan Macháček, Journalist & Expert on EU issues, Czech Republic;
- Mr. Jānis Mažeiks, Ambassador to the United Nations, Latvia;
- Mr. Žygimantas Pavilionis, Ambassador to the USA, Lithuania;
- Mr. Rafal Szczurowski, Journalist & Academic Advisor at CUNY, Poland;
- Ms. Angela Solikova, Economics Professor at Fordham University, Slovak Republic.
They addressed following interesting topics: „How the full EU membership helped our economies? What we did for Europe? Does it pay off being members of the eurozone?“. In their speeches they came to several conclusions that confirmed the positive benefits of the EU membership in terms of security and economic development, in terms of access to the EU structural funds, as well as with regard to the freedom of movement of persons and capital, international student exchanges, etc. At the same time, however, they largely voiced criticism of the lack of vision for EU´s future direction, the vaguely defined European identity and, in particular, the „two-speed Europe“ in which the gap between "rich " and " poor" member states is recently widening.
In a subsequent lively and very interesting discussion the panelists answered questions from the audience which were directed for example at the reasons for low participation of CEE countries in recent elections to the European Parliament, at the potential impact of the negotiated free trade agreement between the EU and the USA (the TTIP ), at the current situation in Ukraine and the related issues of Russian minorities especially in the Baltic countries, as well as at the existence or non-existence of the vision of CEE states for the future development of the European Union. Discussions continued during the subsequent reception, during which the guests had the opportunity to taste typical regional food and drinks prepared by all the participating countries.