You put your questions to Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga during our global phone-in programme Talking Point.
On 1 May, 10 new states joined the European Union, in the biggest expansion in its history.
The EU is now the world's largest trading bloc, in terms of population, with 74 million new citizens taking the total to 455 million.
But some diplomats and experts have warned that the European Union is ill-equipped to cope with the integration of 10 new states.
There are concerns over potential paralysis in decision-making, the wealth gap between old and new members and the lack of a single vision of where Europe is heading.
How will such a large expansion affect Europe and the rest of the world? How will the new members adjust to life inside the union? Tell us what you think.
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of the opinions we have received:
It is a plain fact that there will be great difficulty in functioning as a group of equally powered 25 different countries, economies, geographies, cultures, languages, demographics and populations as distant as Lithuania and Portugal, Poland and Malta. Looking at the whole bunch I don't see anything in common except the religion. So what sort of club are they really hoping they are creating?
Ibrahim Arit, Istanbul, Turkey
We must continue to embrace Enlargement, because it is making the EU stronger both politically, economically and culturally richer than before. We as Europeans can only benefit from this rich mutual cultural exchange.
Tom, Limerick, Republic of Ireland
Perhaps Asia should form an economic bloc, or AU if you will, to combat the negative effects to their economy that will be brought on by an ever enlarging EU. It would also stop the EU's eastern migration and temptation to incorporate all of the surrounding land masses into their sphere of control. The EU is beginning to look more and more like a non-violent aggressor.
A Message for my British friends: Why would not you like eastern Europeans to live and work in the UK while loads of Brits come to the sun of the Mediterranean coasts and try to establish their manners and language? Division represents "selfishness" and this is the real problem of our planet today. Unity is the right formula and I am glad to see that "others" have the chance too. Welcome all of you.
Francisco, Madrid, Spain
A good thing in principle, although a little unwise in my opinion to take on so much at one time.
However, I'm curious to see how those countries heralded as previous success stories (Ireland, Spain, Portugal) will fare when EU funds will now be moving East not West. Will they now be net contributors instead of net recipients?
This quote is from the EU's website: "75 million people celebrate a new freedom as they retake their place in the European family." If that isn't a load of insulting propaganda, I do not know what is. The new EU members never left Europe and being in the EU is not synonymous with being European. New freedom? Seems more like have a collar and leash being placed around one's neck with France and Germany holding the end of it. This kind of propaganda should show us that we should get out of the EU before it is too late.
Europe's power lies in the strength of its unity. United, Europe is much more powerful that its integral parts. Unity is therefore the way to the future, and if any member state thinks it will be better off on its own, perhaps it should be allowed to go its own way, rather than stop the others from cementing the foundations of the new united Europe.
Most of the fears and complaints about the EU are NOT coming from the US, but from UK and other European nations. The US does not fear economic competition with the EU in fact it opens more markets and possibilities to further American economic strength as well as benefit the individual EU members. As for military counterbalance - please build up your military forces! My taxes will only go down as a result.
I should also like to remind the young Europeans who are so joyful and hopeful for the future, that this day would not have arrived without the hated Americans securing your safety during the Cold War and providing millions in Marshal Plan dollars so the Western European nations could rebuild its economies and cultures to reach the place you are today. So Europe has a lot to look forward to and so does the U.S. which is not going to shrivel up and go away whether you like it or not.
Lyn, New Jersey, USA
What we need is a Europe that is truly united. Most of the "old" EU states did badly by blocking their job markets for the new members. This was something contradictory to the whole idea of enlargement and I'm not saying that because I'm willing to work in Western Europe (I'm not). We need to be careful not to create any more divisions as it could deprive the whole enlargement of its sense.
Michal Zarebski, Lublin/Poland
It is sad to know that so many people in the new entrant nations to the European have been so badly deceived. They have joined in a spirit of optimism after the EU's politicians and gravy train passengers have told them how wonderful it is, how many jobs there will be available and how much better off they will be financially. Inevitably these promises will be unfulfilled which will create much unrest amongst the people of the accession countries.
Derek Bennett, Walsall, England
It seems that only pro-Europe voices are to be heard on this forum. We've opened up our borders to allow those from poorly-developed countries to both abandon their own country's development, and to bring cheap labour to the UK. Let's be clear, the only beneficiaries are the employers who don't want to invest in development and training the UK population. They simply want cheap labour from abroad. This country has ceased to be.
Roy West, England
The work restrictions mean that far from joining a union of equals the countries that joined today are being treated as second class members and should rightly feel affronted at that.
This sort of expansion should be considered routine. The real strategic challenge will be in bringing Turkey into the fold. With an aging and receding population basis, Europe desperately needs Turkey. Europe should make Turkey a partner in the future successes and risks of the union. And that needs more Turks moving around Europe and intermarrying. Europe's Turkish solution lies exactly where its fears lie as well.
Mehmet Nuri, Istanbul, Turkey
I am happy; we are united again after a long period of darkness, though there is the problem of the huge increase of crime.
The Europhiles are trying to skew the argument about Europe into either we sign up whole-heartedly for the Franco-German political union vision or we leave the EU. This "all or nothing" scare-tactic may suit their purpose, but it is dishonest. The third way is a union of sovereign states co-operating where it is in our national interest to do so (this is, after all, how France and Germany act when their interests conflict with European law). The reason those of us sceptical to the Franco-German vision of Europe should be delighting in the entry of the ten new members is because they are more likely to back our vision than the outdated, bureaucratic nightmare that France and Germany have foisted on us.
Adam Gray, London, England
What a fantastic celebration it was here! The streets were crowded until 02.00 on Saturday morning, people incredibly happy, even more so than when Lithuania won the basketball championship, which when you understand that basketball is second only to the Church in generating turnout is quite something. But this morning, it was back to reality. No Hot water for the next 3 days as they service the central soviet style heating system!
Andrew, Vilnius, Lithuania
Fantastic! Maybe now the EU can grow a military, start policing itself on its own (i.e. Bosnia) and throw us out. I can't wait.
I think the expansion of the EU is a good idea. However, I think most Europeans misconstrue the expansion of the EU. It's an economic union, that's it. The idea that it is some kind of counter-balance to the US - is quite simply incorrect. It will make trading with the EU easier in the long term. The EU is not a political union, no matter what France and Germany say - the citizens of Europe will see that the first time there is division amongst it's members.
Dalo, Coral Gables, FL
Let's try to build up a place where we all can live in peace, respect, prosperity and freedom. Welcome you all! Long live Europe!
Javier, Madrid, Spain
EU enlargement is a great historic event that ends the division between Eastern and Western Europe. I am pleased that 10 new countries are joining the EU. It is a testament to the success of the EU, originally with only six countries and now 25, that even more countries want to join. I believe that it will provide new business opportunities throughout the EU and give Eastern Europeans more freedom to travel, live and work on other EU countries. The challenges that lie ahead can be overcome and I think that they will be.
Ronnie Cohen, London, England
I see a bright future for Europe. Some growing pains are inevitable but the potential for a better world is exciting. Not only will the member states be better off but the entire world could benefit from an expanded EU, especially if it decides to act as a counter force to American imperialism. I wish you all the best of luck.
James, Philadelphia, USA
The next step is for the UK to adopt the Euro.
Fer, Cardiff, UK
Only one thing to say about this subject. In what other country can people be treated for free? in what other country can benefits be given free? The U.K is being over burdened again and again, when will it stop, maybe we should just change the name of the U.K to land of the free for all.
Peter Berry, Portsmouth England
I am rather confused about the EU at the moment. If it is such a good idea and everybody is quite happy living within, then why do I hear so many negative comments on the new coming countries and the EU existence? What is everybody afraid of?
A Latvian student in Britain, I couldn't hold back tears when watching the EU enlargement celebrations on BBC.
I want to believe a wider Europe means not only mutual benefits, but also solidarity among nations and cultures! Diverse, but united Europe should be...
Ieva, Riga, Latvia
The UK must decide what it wants. It has been anti-European for far too long. If you want out of the EU, go ahead. But let the fog clear up please. Welcome back, Eastern European brothers and sisters! This is a fantastic day!
Lawrence, Brussels, EU
A warm welcome to every new citizen joining the EU. Trying to form such a large and diverse economic and cultural bloc will not be without its problems, but if we can succeed, we will show the world what is possible when warring nations put aside their differences and celebrate their common principles and dreams. I feel so very proud today.
Mark Streeter, Sydney, Australia and Norwich, England
This expansion represents a further swing in world power away from the USA. The issue for me is whether the four global powers (US, Europe, China and the Arabic Middle East) can possibly live in harmony?
What a great day for Europe and the world! The only cloud over the enlargement project at present is the closed labour markets which so many "old" Member States have imposed (three cheers for the more enlightened UK, Ireland and Sweden, which have not done so). The sooner these restrictions, which infringe one of the Union's fundamental freedoms, are eliminated, the better for us all.
Steven, Prague, Czech Republic
The EU with its absurd system of regulations and subsidies needs to be completely destroyed and then possibly rebuilt in a minimal form.
David, Jihlava, CZ
More a question than a comment: Will the ten new member states instantly adopt the euro currency and will there be full and immediate customs integration with the original 15 states? (e.g. Will I be able to bring duty-paid purchases back from Poland on the same basis as from France?)
John Barnes, Rossendale, UK
Can we please be naive for a moment and celebrate? The name "Europa" has been around for centuries; it was a project and a vision that has been used for both good and evil ends. It's both a Napoleonic and a Hitlerian idea, both an ancient Greek and a Roman idea. Whichever way it goes, I'm glad that we finally live in "Europa". She was the most erotic and kind daughter of all the Gods.
Lawrence, Brussels, EU
Is there an honest politician out there who will explain the real purpose of the EU? It certainly isn't trade, because that is adequately dealt with by the European Trading Area, of which we are a critical part.
Celebrations all over Europe and so there should be. But so little in the UK.
I have the vague impression that Anglo-Saxons are the accountants and book keepers of the planet. A bit dry, not very adventurous, certainly not romantic. The EU is much more than redistributing wealth and enhancing trade. The EU is a vision, a political, cultural, judicial, economic and ecologic project. Those who want to reduce it to accounts are not Europeans.
Lawrence, Brussels, EU
What a great day for Europe and the world! The only cloud over the enlargement project at present is the closed labour markets which so many "old" Member States have imposed (three cheers for the more enlightened UK, Ireland and Sweden, which have not done so). The sooner these restrictions, which infringe one of the Union's fundamental freedoms, are eliminated, the better for us all.
Steven, Prague, Czech Republic
As a new member of the EU I have been truly disappointed by the negative focus of both these comments and the overall press coverage of this historic enlargement. A united Europe is a stronger Europe. The focus on job and migration fears is petty and small-minded and is inappropriate for this historic day. It is truly sad that the British lack the vision to see how their future as a leader in united Europe is far better than simply being glorified spokesmen for American foreign policy.
I welcome the new countries into European Union. Having spent part of my life in Poland I know what these countries have to offer. Expansion is a great thing it offers cultural diversity. I am saddened by some of the negativity written about Eastern Europe in the press by people who have never been there. A very big Welcome to all the new member states: Peace be with us
Martin Geeson, Long Eaton, England
I hope that with Poland in the EU they will never turn against USA.
I am also worried about France and Germany and their attempts to dominate EU together with their socialist inefficient markets and ideas.
Wojtek, Poland Wroclaw
Employment agency adverts, designed to appeal to employers, have all ready started to appear on London Underground trains - "hard working, well educated Eastern Europeans who will work for affordable wages". Last night I saw a politician on TV saying we needed these people because of skill shortages in among other things IT.
But I am an IT worker and I have been unemployed for nearly two years and there are thousands like me. Why are we expected to feel positive about EU enlargement when it just makes a bad situation worse? There is no skills shortage but there is apparently a cheap skills shortage.
Al, London, UK
The EU is the only way to live in peace in Europe for the next century. We are lucky that we argue about the standard size of strawberries and not about borders of countries today. Keep that in mind!
Stefan Tappertzhofen, Duesseldorf, Germany
Anything that helps to dilute the Franco/German domination of the EU has to be a good thing. You never know, the EU may finally turn out to be what it was originally intended for, a trade organisation rather than a federal state.
It's an important, though not definitive progress, towards a more just and equal world. We have a long a difficult trail before us, lets start it with the right step!
Paolo Marcenaro, Genoa, Italy
I cannot understand why so many in the UK are in favour of the enlargement of the EU. It will bring more difficulties for the British economy and will replace even more of our homemade goods with imports.
The UK is not competitive in industrial markets and has lost most of its manufacturing industry and has a very unbalanced service based economy. When did you last buy something made in Britain? The logical next step to this enlargement will be the necessity to join the Euro because our balance of payments will be so bad, we will have to be part of a larger economic unit to prevent a run on the Ł.
Dudley Holley, UK
The enlargement of the EU will only cause more trouble, the UK gives the most money and gets the least back, we are now going to have subsidise other countries before our own, we should look after our own country first.
Martin Williams, St Helens UK
The British are fed up with the amount of people that can seemingly walk freely into our country, whether to plug gaps in the job market or not, our country's diversity stifles our peace and prosperity.
Abandoning borders, integrating economies has always has always had positive effects for the countries involved. I sincerely hope it will be the case this time, too.
Sanjin, Rijeka, Croatia
How can anyone not rejoice? Onwards to a global union.
SV, Athens, Greece
For those British citizens who are worried about their country's safety: I highly doubt that newcomers would want to move away from their family and friends to "invade" your country, divesting you of jobs and benefits. Now there will be no compulsion to "get away". Other than that, I am happy for the integration but time can only tell whether this fellowship is going to be beneficial or not for the entire Union.
Europe has used an historic chance to create long-lasting peace and stability. This makes any burdens that might come along with the enlargement seem irrelevant. The important thing now is to show optimism instead of whining about minor disadvantages the EU enlargement may bring here and there.
Felix, Vienna, Austria
Its a wonderful day for freedom and humanity.
Maria, Goring, UK
Why so many negative comments from the US. Anything to do with their own desire to dominate. It's easier to dominate a split and divisive world. The EU is a template for the future. Peace in Europe without invasion...a foreign concept to the US.
There seems to be a lot of Americans on this board predicting doom and gloom. However, I think it's a step in the right direction, countries coming together in peace.
I think it's just jealousy from some Americans, as we have now formed the most powerful and influential trading block in the world, even more now than the USA.
Superpower status will be arriving soon, hopefully to balance US aggression and power in the world. It's here, and a warm welcome to our new European citizens.
One must congratulate the EU and offer hope that the continued expansion and integration will allow it to emerge as a better alternative to US global domination and exploitation.
Robert Wishart, Munich, Germany (USA)
This is a date which will either start the beginning of the end or the start of a new superpower to rival the U.S in its dominance of the world. I hope we can and do become that new superpower that will be capable as acting as a balance to the USA's power.
Chris Barton, Reading
It's good to see a few more positive reactions from the UK in later postings on this topic but some earlier ones are so ill-informed that it reveals just how successfully the "little Englander" camp in our UK press has been in poisoning minds against Europe.
You just have to examine what many of the new members of the EU have had to do to qualify for entry to understand the vision. And what are the alternatives? To keep emphasising our differences over our common goals and values? To continually predict the worst possible scenarios?
I feel a tremendous urge to apologise to our newest members for the ugliness of this attitude and to congratulate and welcome them and wish them well for the future. I just hope that reading those comments doesn't cloud their celebration of this day.
John Bligh, London, UK
I really don't understand all this anger towards the enlargement of the EU? Its not as if all the east is going to start moving to the west. I am positive that there are more benefits from the new EU than negative externalities. Where as the question on Turkey, I think that they are not fit to join the EU yet!
They still have major problems in their economy, and they do not respect the minorities in their country (Kurds) which is one of the laws for new members to join the EU!
Patrick Mainwaring, Paris, France
To get to this stage after centuries of conflict in less than 60 years, is truly amazing. There will be problems, and some of them will be hard to overcome, but we cannot return to the old Europe. As well as the economic long term benefits, we need more cultural balance, and this is not an anti US sentiment, but I think it important that there are other influences needed in the world other than Coke & the Big Mac. If we try hard to live and work together, future generations will thank us.
Harry B, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK
I welcome the enlargement and our greater role in Europe. I would rather be a partner in Brussels than the 51st state of the US as the Euro-sceptics would have us be.
john, Shetland, Scotland
The European Union is the biggest mistake in the history of Europe. So, to increase its membership by 2/3 is nothing to celebrate - the EU should be abolished not expanded.
Mark Balaam, Cheadle, UK
This has been one of the most interesting BBC message boards for ages, in the range and internationalism of the responses. The challenges for this supranational experiment are huge, and yes, it could all end in deadlock and infighting.
But I'm sitting here remembering the partitioned Europe of my childhood and can only feel a sense of joy today in seeing what this continent has achieved in so short a time. Let's give it a chance - it's better than collapsing into nationalism and fundamentalism, which is what is happening in so many other parts of the world.
Leo Lewis, London
The countries that have just joined the EU doesn't really mean anything for the big five - UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. The new countries act as a further affront to the United States. So while Blair is openly supportive of Bush and America, he's also playing the back door option of strengthening his neighbours to create a political rivalry between a United States of America and a United States of Europe.
Kurian Abraham, London, UK
I have been working in the UK for over six years now as an IT contractor. It is great that Slovakia (where I am from) is a part of EU now. The immediate benefit for me is that my car insurance will be whole Ł1000 lower!
It's a wonderful day now that most of Europe is united in a common goal. My hope is that all Europeans can enjoy greater equality and more security. The continent can have a stronger voice if raised together in PEACE and cooperation.
Michael Phillips, Clarkston, MI USA
Today is a wonderful day for humanity and an affirmation that national boundaries are less powerful than the universal brotherhood shared by all. May the EU continue to be a shining beacon of democracy and justice for the whole world!
Paulo de Figuerido, Melbourne, Australia
We should not forget that Ireland in 30 years, thanks to the EU, has gone from the poorest nation in western Europe to become the second richest, only surpassed by Luxembourg
Kristian Abildskov, Brussels, Belgium (Dane)
This is a long-awaited event which hopefully will bring to an end the effects of the rise of totalitarianism in the 1930s and Soviet hegemony after 1945.
It will be interesting to see how quickly the new Member States develop a distinctive voice.
John Konrad, Norwich UK
This is not a sad day for England or the former EU members. In fact old and rich EU needs new members even more than these new countries need EU. Without the optimism and enthusiasm flowing from the new members EU would be soon on the periphery of the world trade. It is funny that it is more obvious for the U.S. and Canadian citizen as you read this forum.
Marcin H, Wroclaw, Poland
So what, it just means less jobs, more housing problems and less in pocket, more crowding.
UK doesn't need the EU, the EU needs UK. Get that referendum, I vote against everything.
A Seehra, Birmingham UK
Now well into my mid fifties I recall being given an opportunity for or against the Common Market. Years later I find this nation of ours part of the enlarged E.U. No Government since that first vote has sought my opinion on whether we Brits should be part of European Union.
For that slight I will never forgive our politicians who, unbidden, have foisted this unaccountable monster upon us. Undemocratic.
Keith Kettlewell, Yate, England
When the whole world realises that political unity cannot replace social grouping we might find true peace.
I am friends with my neighbours but have never felt the need to join their families. Friendship and trade is one thing. But the EU is a blight on all the peoples of Europe. I have family and friends who are unemployed and have "needed" skills yet we are now have opened the door to millions more to abuse our state aid and benefits and hide behind the politician built wall of Racial Prejudice.
So called Racial Prejudice fears prevents the true exposure of our benefits system.
Many of our new visitors that flock here will soon find that they are not welcome and racial tensions will increase under EU constraints if we then accept the ill thought out EU Constitution.
C Pearce, Woking, Surrey
From economics point of view EU expansion is about efficiency which is utterly needed in order to sustain economic growth. Also here in Latvia many people are afraid to lose their jobs because of the expansion, but you have to be dynamic in order to keep pace with other fast growing economies. I believe each of the 25 EU countries will benefit from the enlargement.
Armands, Riga, Latvia
Too much, too soon. Let's get the original members to sort out their differences first.
Andrew McCarthy, Pontevedra, Spain
Why are we being brainwashed into thinking what a wonderful thing EU enlargement is? It may well benefit loads of other countries, but certainly not the UK.
While we pour in over a billion pounds a year to be a member of this club - others take out similar amounts to fund their own industry and infrastructure improvement schemes. All the while there is one unemployed person in this country - not one job should be moved to a member state, nor should a single economic migrant take that job.
It is incredible how narrow-minded some people can be. This is one of greatest moments of European history, yet some people prefer to live in their micro-world and worry about the short-term effect it will have on their salaries, etc. Great achievements always require some sacrifices. Read some history please.
Elias Kostopoulos, Athens, Greece
It is very sad to read that people in UK see the meaning of EU only in economy. The most important and symbolic thing about EU is that there are no borders anymore. British people don't have experiences with borders because the only border they have is a sea.
But when you live on a place where artificial borders divided friends and relatives, where father was living in one state and daughter in another, only than can you realise what is the real meaning of united Europe. Unfortunately we live in a time when it is more important how big budget you have and not how big is your culture.
Sala, Ljubljana, Slovenija
I think it's amazing to think how much the political, social and economic map of Europe has change in our lifetime. I remember visiting Budapest many years ago and seeing Soviet troops wandering the streets and being in the only gay bar in Budapest then and whilst I was there it was raided by the Secret Police.
Now my parents are living there after my step dad had to leave when the Soviets invaded in 56 and today the obvious development of the Hungarian economy compared to the Communist years is amazing. How anyone can say 'what difference can it make?' is beyond me.
Trevor Skingle, London
Yes jobs will go to Central Europe, and competition for jobs here will increase. But prices will go down and UK productivity will increase. The most adaptable British people will flourish. The least won't. Harsh, but the way of the world.
Moray Barclay, Winsor
While everyone is celebrating, an unforeseen consequence has developed in my city. Many Polish families had refugee status, and access to the support that comes with that status. As Poland has become a member of Europe, they have lost all of their rights as refugees, and have lost their homes. In short, whole families have become homeless - overnight.
Andy Breen, Liverpool, UK
P Jones's comment on a sad day for "England" - There lies the problem - everything revolves around England as far as the English are concerned - Another nail in the coffin of this once great nation? When are you going to get over the fact that we are now part of a greater community?
Billy McLaughlin, Derry
Why do so many Americans seem to grumble on about the EU when so many of their countrymen died to pave the way for it? Perhaps they don't have quite what their previous generation expected, but then that's the way of the world. Surely they don't really want us back killing each other, as we did for hundreds of years before the US was even thought of?
Andrew, London, EU
A truly sad day and a truly terrible decision by the new states. Countries who for so long fought for their independence have squandered it.
The new expansion of EU is ambiguous for Ukraine. On the one hand it means that Ukraine gets more chances to join EU in future, but on the other hand the EU will impose lots of trade and other kinds of restrictions to Ukrainian companies that have close economic links with new members of EU. EU is afraid of powerful Ukrainian industrial potential that can compete to invade EU market.
Anton, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
How am I supposed to feel? Well within days of these Eastern European countries voting to join the EU the company I work for announced it was relocating to Czech Rep and Poland, simply because of cheaper labour.
They could employ two to every one by switching and now 200 people lose their jobs, the same result to people in York. So do you think I will be voting for some European constitution whenever it comes?
Adam Shane, Somerset UK
This unification symbolises understanding for common good and sacrifice of one's richness and willingness to share. This can only encourage similar unifications. Its not a combination of few rich nations, it combines nations regardless of their monetary status, which is what makes it more valuable.
Kulkarni, Pune, India
It's a great day for us. I have always been considered myself as a European citizen so this event just a stamp on the marriage lines. I am pretty sure that Hungary will add values to this partnership. I've already visited most of the European countries and never felt myself stranger. All European citizens are welcomed in Hungary.
László Boronyák, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary
That's the way to fight against global terror, not with a shameful war. We must walk together to ourselves benefits, building a new state sharing the same wills and goals, but keeping safe Europe's most important value, the diversity of our cultures.
Jorge Godoy, Spain
I hope that once in the near future the Brits will understand that the EU is not a trading bloc, but a Union of peoples.
Sergio Bellabarba, Milan, Italy
The negativity and cynicism displayed by my fellow Brits is both staggering and extremely disappointing. Its one thing to be wary and watchful against the forces of insidious imperialism and fat-cat greed, but it's another to see only negativity in what is still a fledgling union.
Interesting that most of these nay-sayers are only interested in how things will affect their pockets. What happened to compassion and doing something for your follow man? If something doesn't work in the new EU we CAN fix it, because we're Europeans and we're cool. This is a family that has been divided by hate for too long. Hopefully no more.
C Fletch, Helensburgh, Scotland, UK
We have to embrace the union of other countries to enhance our economic progression.
Johfel, Newcastle, UK
This is so hypocritical.
I hear all this whining about the employees from the new member states undercutting the wages. Why don't you offer them wages equal to yours? This way only the skills and knowledge will matter? Or maybe this is what you are afraid of? Maybe they are just a little more ambitious than yourselves?
Robert Pranagal, Lublin, Poland
Not being born yesterday, I know that there are always some winners and some losers. In this case, I think it's quite clear who's who. But who said that the EU will last forever? If it doesn't work, then away with it, but not before having a go. Who said that the prejudices against the EU will last forever? Maybe the prejudices will diminish before the breakdown of the EU. Looking for the future!
Karel Stodulka, the Czech Republic
Will Turkey, a long time Western ally, will EVER become an EU member? Answer, I bet, is NEVER, for obvious reasons, which no one wants to talk about. Of course, there is no room for "religious" and "racial" bigotry in "secular" and "democratic" Europe. Right!
Saifullah Nizamani, Worcester, USA
If Western political conservatives were so bothered about this hardly-unexpected development why did they not just leave the Soviet Union and the Communist Eastern bloc alone, or, indeed, support the Cold War status quo?
R Haines, Ipswich
A beautiful moment that demonstrates the impact of solidarity and trust in today's global politics, economy and culture. The best of wishes to the ever-growing European Union.
M. Verde, Caracas, Venezuela
This is a great day for Europe and Europeans and shouldn't be cheapened by narrow-minded fears about jobs and immigration. The European Union is welcoming many new countries that deserve to be here, who have suffered a lot in the 20th century through very little choice of their own.
The European Union is a model of peaceful co-operation and prosperity between countries and of a fairer version of capitalism than the militaristic and horribly unequal United States. And to those anti-European Brits who wonder what the EU's ever done for them and think it's getting too large, perhaps they should think about leaving.
Tassos Tsitsopoulos, London
I would feel far more secure and positive about the future if the EU was made up of just eight or nine countries that worked together for a single objective, and not for personal benefit. As it stands the UK should pull out, there is too much division, and this is just the beginning!
Ben M, Lima, Peru (Brit)
To me it seems that the EU is trying to run before it can crawl. The EU has problems with 12 members so who knows what will happen when the other ten join. Every country will gain something from the new members but they will also get some bad things from them as well. The UK is lucky; if the EU fails we can always rely on the Commonwealth.
This is a great day for Europe and the whole planet. EU will lead the way to a new world order where conflict is resolved peacefully and in a manner that promotes coexistence and respect of other people. Turkey is not a European country, neither culturally nor politically.
John Isis, Houston, Texas
I love it. My only fear is that EU must not be puffed with pride, that will send wrong messages across and panic in other countries.
Bigger the better but don't forget humble the best.
Amar Duggal, Atlanta
EU seems to be a great idea, but socialism with wealth redistribution, bureaucracy etc is not the right way. It didn't help us during past 60 years, it didn't help East Germany after German reunion. Many citizens of my country (including me, for which I feel sorry today) voted "Yes" in referendum fooled by huge pro-EU propaganda.
But I think they will change their mind when they experience "benefits" of the accession (higher VAT, rising prices etc.) Sometimes I think we forgot that the only way to improve the economy is to work hard, not to wait for funds from somebody else. EU's socialism is a straight way to a total disaster, for both old and new members. The faster Europeans realize it, the better for Europe.
Tomasz, Bydgoszcz, Poland
Thank God for the comment from Phil, UK: one enlightened one among the bunch of petty GDP peddlers here! I left Czechoslovakia in 1980, and got a phone call just at midnight from my twin brother who stayed there: "I can't believe we're finally BACK where we ALWAYS belonged!"
He was right: just like with Spain and Portugal, nobody will count pennies ten years from now (they may just be richer than us by then!), but we will take it for granted that these people are really a part of the family that finally made it home again today, after so many years of abuse. To the EU-bashers here, please answer two simple questions: Are you bold enough to go it alone in your small state? And if not, who is culturally your natural partner?
Infighting, insolvency and unemployment are all the EU is going to accomplish. I wish all the members good luck because they're certainly going to need it.
Ben, NYC, USA
For those people concerned about taking British jobs or worried about the NAFTA block losing relative economic power - let's think about how we can make the overall pie bigger, not how big a slice you can take or preserve for yourself. What value does peace and equality between peoples have for you? I'll take two steps forward and one step back over standing still any day.
John Pollyanna, Toronto, Canada
I'd like to notice that not only Poland, but all ten new members of the EU have been a part of Europe since there establishing. Economical condition is practically the only difference between us, but hopefully from this day the process of "equalisation" will commence. We have a lot of work to do here, so you shouldn't be so afraid of our migrations, especially now, when Poland is one of the fastest developing countries in Europe.
Michal Karas, Stalowa Wola, Poland
The enlargement of the EU means two things: More PEACE and more LIBERTY throughout our continent! There are risks and the institutions do need to adapt but, despite this, today is an overwhelmingly good day for Europe. Welcome to Europe!!
Paul Vincent, Niederanven, Luxembourg
This marks a historic landmark in the history of Europe, representing a continental unity unseen since Roman times. All young people should look forward to the increased opportunities that will come through life as part of a wider union.
Tom, Durham, GB
I'm an American citizen and it just amazes me how far the whole of Europe has come in the last 20 years! I hope that the US and EU can keep good relations and clear past the whole Iraq situation.
Samuel Liebert, Janesville, USA
This expansion is all very well and good, but in my opinion, it won't last ten years. Currently France and Germany are the leading figures in the EU. What will happen when the Baltic states and other former Soviet Republics want more power? France and Germany are not going to like giving up their power, this is where the EU will start to fall apart.
The different countries will have different opinions on things and won't like the way the other countries conduct their policy, this has been evident in the Iraq war The EU was divided, what happens when it comes to more important decisions that will effect everyone in the EU? It will collapse and burn. But for now I do hope it succeeds, and the people of Europe benefit from this co-operation between the countries.
Brendan Chilton, Ashford, England
Let us hope that once the initial enthusiasm has worn off, the new Europe can find a way of accommodating 25, very different, opinions. Fingers crossed for us all!
Piotrowski, Swiecie, Poland
I think that not only the ten new member states but the other 15 will have a tough time adjusting to an enlarged EU, due to the historical events of the last 60 years and the obvious cultural differences. I see the Baltic states adjusting quicker than the Slavic ones though.
Nonetheless, a few years from now the advantages will outweigh all the difficulties, and those new member states which at this point in time seem to be quite fond of the US and support its foreign policy will be in a different mindset altogether. And, for many countries around the world that are in dire need of having a superpower that counterbalances the excessive mingling and influence that the US now has on them, an enlarged European Union will prove to be beneficial.
Pablo Teeschi, Bogotá, Colombia
Slovenia is not a poor country as one of the contributors has indicated by saying that all new countries were poor. Such and similar comments show the ignorance of some people not even trying to get more facts about the new accession countries in general; and about Slovenia that has got some even better economic indicators compared to some of the existing EU countries in particular.
The EU enlargement is a huge step towards a borderless world and it is an organic process that shall continue. No doubt this is a force for good.
Rony, Twickenham, England
The suggestion that Europeans are too diverse to form a strong EU is nonsense. The average Brit believes strongly in fairness and community - that's what the EU means. The world could really use a superpower whose ethos combines generosity and tolerance.
Stefan M, USA/UK
People in Eastern Europe just want to live in peace and prosperity - and work for it. I don't believe that too many of us will move to England or Germany to live and work there. It's just impossible. And not only because of the restrictions.
Zsolt Mohacsi, Budapest, Hungary
Big warm welcome to any of the 74 million folks from the ten new member countries. A voluntary partnership of free trade, human rights, and friendship are what its about.
I'll be visiting soon.
Dave L, Glasgow, Scotland
It is remarkable that countries that just about 50 years ago were probably in the bitterest wars mankind ever fought are ready to work in tandem.
Its significance should not be lost
in bickering over minor economic differences which
may not even exist in a few years.
Narayana Santhanam, India
I am very happy. I feel relieved I can finally be treated as a free person and travel, settle and work where I want not where some authorities will tell me I can work and live. Now no one has the right to treat me as an inferior citizen. I am a citizen of Europe. The 1 May 2004 is a historical day.
Selena, Wroclaw, Poland
Today is not only a great day for Europe, but for the international community as well. This proves that the ties which bond us are stronger than the forces to divide. This will be a step closer to international peace and harmony
Benjamin, Boston, Mass, US
I would prefer that we join the US too instead of EU. I wouldn't even dream of getting a job in one of the EU countries. It's funny that there are actually more Austrians working in Slovenia than Slovenians in Austria-and it wouldn't be a bad idea for all these new countries to impose restrictions regarding land ownership, etc. Why fall victims of colonialism?
Fiona, USA, ex Slovenia
The enlargement is to be welcomed. It is only a first step. The sooner Europe learns to speak with one voice, the sooner the USA will respect it as an equal. I look forward to a United States of Europe.
John Hardy, London
I can't understand why the Britons think that every East Europeans want to go to the UK to take your jobs. The new members only want to live peace after 1,000 year of wars and several occupations in the divided Europe.
Csaba Zsolt Fejér, Miskolc, Hungary
This is a sad day for England. These Eastern European workers will undercut our wages. People will still be paid Ł4.50 an hour in 10 years time. The roads will be more crowded the cities will become more split. This is another nail in the coffin for this once great nation. Why on earth am I going to work in Estonia for 20 pounds a week! They gain and we Brits get taken for a ride again.
P Jones, Southampton, UK
I cannot wait. I have spent so much time in Europe and other countries in the block; I personally think this new European involvement will enrich our country but moreover our children's lives in the future! Life has to move on and saying that Rome/France/England/Europe was not built in one day! Long live Europe it is our future and our past!
To me this enlargement appears as an economic and trading bloc to balance and check Chinese and the USA trading activities. It must be a democratic organisation and non-European members must also be given a temporary membership. There is no Islamic country in this bloc - is it a conscious attempt to sideline the Muslims as Turkey's membership yet has not been ensured? Turkey is a secular country and apparently no reason exists to keep it away from the fold of the EU.
Awais Qarni, Lahore, Pakistan
Hungary will fit well with the EU. This is a win-win. EU will get countries with great history, tradition, education and workforce... Hungary will merge easily and five years from now nobody will debate this issue.
If Europe fails to unite, the world will never unite.
Zed, Surbiton, UK
Those in the EU cannot see the forest for the trees. There is so much greed and so much desire to beat the USA economically, that the EU will stop at nothing to achieve it, even if it ends up being to the detriment of existing member states. So, what can anyone do but sit back and watch and wait until the EU eventually implodes on itself.
Will, Atlanta, USA
I think that EU expansion is good for the world market but from the UK's point of view it is harmful. Because they are not developed countries they'll come to UK for jobs and to improve their lives. This could increase terrorist activity in the UK.
Whilst new arrivals in EU see an opportunity for their economies by attracting investments and to improve their populations daily bread, the older European country and precisely the capitalism sees fulfilment of the last step on the road of taming their populations.
Indeed; during the Cold War, European capitalism opted for paying the most part of the comfort of their people so as to maintain a belief in somehow capitalism is better. Now after Berlin wall's fall they don't need to continue in this way and via industrial delocalisation toward these new arrivals they can impose low wages to their population while they delocalise work also. The equation is a levelling down, in other word is time for Europeans to accept the biter reality, time is gone while capitalism pay, now it time to give money back.
It is rather obvious that the EU was created as a copy of US, in order to be able to compete with the huge US influence in economics and politics. EU has to work out, not because the rich EU countries want to equalize Europe and make it a nice prosperous place for us all, but because they are desperate to gain (or is it regain?) a leading and more influential position in the world and hopefully someday get the place that the US is holding today.
Since neither Germany, France nor UK can do this by themselves, they need the EU. Why is it all the debate about EU around what the poorer countries have to win from EU, and why do we always avoid talking about what the rich countries' advantages are? Why do we look at these rich countries as the victims of the EU enlargement?
Who would be so naive to think that they are doing all this (give money to the newcomer EU members, invest in poorer EU countries etc) out of generosity for their poorer neighbours and not for their own interest? Too bad that the states within the EU will never be equal in terms of decision making, or, so to say some will be more equal than others.
People talk about the economic and income differences between the EU countries, but why don't we talk about the 'below the surface' disparities within the EU? Is the EU really a democratic, capitalistic thing?
Irina Haivas, Iasi, Romania
The 10 new members have the most to lose by far in this agreement. They have the most economic potential, but their resources will be bought out by wealthier members of the Union. Just as in the United States the rich States will continue to get richer and the poor States will only get poorer no matter how much redistribution of wealth there is. The citizens of the nations like England should be giddy with all the prospects of future economic expansion for their companies and governments. And all you have to give in return is a few low wage jobs to migrants. What a deal.
N Watkins, Washington DC, US
EU expansion is a great idea in theory but since labour restrictions have been applied, basic principles of the EU have been violated. I think Western countries will exploit the Eastern ones; they will take what they want and block what they do not want. EU will never be like the US; economic progress will be hindered by nationalistic and backward mentality.
Tina, Toronto, Canada
Reading this board sounds like the hour of doom is coming close. This is the biggest step Europe has ever done in making it a place for all Europeans and should as such be appreciated. The arguments about the GDP of the new countries being low is a fishy one, I can't remember Ireland, Greece or Portugal having breath-taking GDPs and living standards when they joined the Union.
EU is currently in stagnation. The economy is moving forward only a little bit. The new countries joining EU can give a good boost to Europe in a few years. I am very optimistic.
Maciek Gdula, Silver Spring, MD
'You can build bridges, but the empty space remains' is what I say to this wave of enlargement. I don't buy what other people say, the incoming countries and the current EU members are worlds apart and they will remain so. How will the 200,000 people of Malta and 80 million plus Germans accommodate each other's interests in this body of 25? I think after May 1, the EU will be damaged in spirit, and unless it reforms its decision-making procedures, it will be a body in paralysis most of the time as well.
Ipek Ruacan, Ankara, Turkey
I am somewhat disappointed by the perceived majority of jority of the opinions here ranging from sceptical to outright hostility towards the EU expansion.
Rest assured fellow Europeans. I can hardly see here these crowds of needy unemployed lining for the promised European Eldorado. I can however see, talk to, and meet persons, acquaintances or friends who want and will migrate for some time to the old EU states. They however pose quite a different risk. Risk of depriving this fast moving economy of part of the finest tissue it could breed.
Or maybe I shouldn't say 'they'. I will inevitably be one of them. But fear not for your treasured island riches, Britons. I can with similar ease take projects in Russia, as in Saudi Arabia. Wherever borderless, international capital will decide to pay more handsomely.
Adrian, Warsaw, Poland
I am a graduate with two degrees and cannot find work doing anything but call centre jobs. What chance will I have finding suitable work competing against those from the new EU states who are used to far lower wages? Basic economics states that the more we have of something the less it is worth. With the glut of cheap labour that is going to arrive, we can only expect further erosion of our opportunities in the job market.
Pete , Glasgow, Scotland