It is a few months since we, the Czech Republic, joined the European Union. Many friends from the “old” EU-countries asked me how it is to belong to the EU. “It is a great feeling,” I always reply,” but in fact I haven’t noted any bigger changes. At least me and probably most Czechs. Joining the EU reminds me of my 18th birthday. I got full rights competency. I got grown-up. On paper. All the rights and possibilities you have you will realize in course of time. The Czech Republic became, “grown-up” on 1.5.2004. We became EU-citizens and got many new rights (and duties). But we do not know them. Only very few people read info-brochures from EU or our government (nor do I), we come to know about our “new life” from living it.
So what has really changed? First of all we do not need any passports to cross borders of EU-states. This does not work everywhere and every time, so it is very advisable to take it with you. And the sugar increased in price by 20%. The clever Czechs have been early warned and bought in advance sufficient supply of this basic foodstuff.
They also bought a lot of blue labels with European stars and stuck it on the number plates of their cars. After the first months of euphoria the police decided to start penalizing the drivers with the labels not following European standards. Suitable marks with the blue logo will be available… at first in one year. We also have had the first election into European Parliament. 28% voters have chosen their Euro-MP. Elected politicians thanked us in public for our trust and after that we have not heard anything more about them.
These are the most significant changes that you can note in everyday living. So, please, don’t ask me what has changed. If you will try in a couple years you will hear probably more than, “Nothing. Except the sugar.” And a little story to end: A few days ago I returned from a stay in Germany. First what I had to do was to register afresh with a Czech health insurance company. They need conformation that I was insured during my stay abroad. I delivered required papers to the clerk. She looks at the paper and after a while she said, that they do not accept documents in foreign languages. I must translate it into Czech. I expected this kind of problem and quickly replied: “Ho, Ho, this is a paper from EU and it can be in English, I asked about this in Brussels!” She looked doubly and doubtfully at my assertive face. “It must be some novelty,” she said and went to the back room to get advice. After quite a long time she returned. Without any word she did a copy of my English certificate and gave me the necessary stamp.
Thank you EU!