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Swedes drink to EU expansion

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00:00 CEST+02:00
"As a Swede you can now settle down with your pension in Cyprus, keep your savings in a Slovakian bank or work freely in Estonia." So began DN's celebrations of the newly-expanded EU, leading many readers to wonder what, if they are the main benefits, all the fuss was about.

With the next sentence it all became clear: "But most importantly, you can now stock up on alcohol from the new cut-price countries."

After months of anticipation, the papers were unleashed on the EU's monumental achievement/folly, and, for a day at least, they tried to focus on the positives.

"The iron curtain, which in 1946 Winston Churchill said had descended from the Baltic to the Adriatic, has finally rusted away," said DN. "Europe is no longer a divided continent and hopefully never will be again. Today's Europeans live in a fortunate moment in Europe's long, conflict-filled history."

And Svenska Dagbladet was no less grandiose: "The EU's expansion from 15 to 25 members means that Europe is united in democracy. Concepts like Perestroika and the Berlin Wall, names like Kohl and Gorbachev: all have sunk into the depths of history."

While the leader writers may have been scribbling for posterity, DN didn't forget today's readers and duly dispatched a couple of journalists to find out where the cheapest booze could be found.

Mia Holmgren went to Tallinn in Estonia and picked up "a litre of 40% spirit for 43 crowns" in the city's Prisma supermarket, which has "carefully stocked up in anticipation of an invasion of thirsty tourists."

And from Swinoujscie in Poland, Michael Winiarski reported that a litre of Wyborowa vodka could be found for 60 crowns, compared to 310 crowns in Systembolaget. Making a tenuous reference to Sweden's invasion of Poland in the 17th century - an event which the Poles refer to as 'the river of sin' - Winiarski pointed out that "this time it's the Swedes who will be drowning - in cheap vodka."

Nevertheless, Swedes are still among the most Euro-sceptical in the EU. According to a survey by Temos, only 47% of the population think EU membership is good for Sweden and if there were another referendum on the Euro, the 'no' side would win 61% of the vote - up 4% from the actual vote in September.

But last weekend at least, the Swedes put their own disillusionment aside to welcome the new members with open arms. "Despite the spring's hot political debate about 'welfare-tourism', support for the expansion has increased among Swedes," said DN.

No doubt encouraged by daily articles in the tabloids about dirt-cheap holiday destinations in the new member states, 62% now think that expansion is a good thing - up from 58% six months ago.

With all that cheap booze around, the Swedes aren't going to spoil the party.

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