This afternoon I flew out of Zaventum and just over two hours later disembarked at Warsaw’s Chopin airport. I shared a taxi into town with Gerfried Gruber, an Austrian member of the Bureau of the EESC’s Various Interests Group. I remarked to him how strangely close, in geographical terms, these Eastern European cities always seem – Prague, Budapest, Warsaw… – because for so much of our lives they had been so psychologically distant. Gruber agreed. He had grown up near Wiener Neustadt, some forty kilometres from the ‘Iron Curtain’, and so with the constant sense of oppressiveness and distance that the frontier, with its wire and floodlights and dog patrols, always generated. His hometown shared a sad characteristic with Warsaw, which saw some eighty-five per cent of its buildings destroyed during the second world war. In the case of Wiener Neustadt, just eight of its 4,000 buildings were left undamaged at the war’s end.