Politics, economics offered Poles no choice but to join EU What others say

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2003

Diffidently, and with heavy hearts, Poles have voted to join the EU. Even the intervention of Pope John Paul II, the greatest living Pole, did little to enthuse them.

While many trudged obediently to the polling stations after Mass yesterday, there was no hiding their reluctance. Poles understand the agony of foreign rule better than most. After finally winning their independence in 1918, they were occupied first by the Nazis and then by the USSR.

Having lived through all this, they are unwilling to contract out their sovereignty to a foreign capital yet again. Why, then, have they voted to join at all albeit on a low turnout?

Two reasons. First, because they had little alternative. The EU is a ruthless commercial neighbor. Since the end of the Cold War, it has imposed stricter quotas on Polish exports than it did during the 1970s. Outside the EU, Poles would have carried on being squashed between two large trading blocs.

Second, because almost every politician in the country lined up behind the ''yes'' campaign, leaving only two rural Right-wing parties against. Politicians, of course, have a personal stake in the result. Many of them already have arrived in Brussels, and are enjoying the awesome tax-free expenses available there. ...

Daily Telegraph, London- June 9

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