Membership of the European Union has come to mean many different things to many different people.
For some, the EU represents the ultimate loss of sovereignty. For them, it is a bland, impersonal bureaucracy giving to the disadvantaged with one hand, but strangling their economies with the other. For others, the EU is the sole guardian of our political sanity, and embodies the ultimate resolution of the deep-rooted tensions that have torn Europe apart so many times in the past.
Similarly, many managers remain ambivalent toward the EU. The endless talk of exciting opportunities and potentially lucrative markets has been offset by difficult bureaucratic realities, and by the sheer complexity of international trade. The EU, which seemed intent on simplifying and streamlining European interaction, is now seen by many as a complicating, obfuscating force. This must, of course, always be balanced against the unquestionable benefits of membership, particularly for disadvantaged member states.