May 1, 2004 will be one of the most significant dates in the post-war history of the six most powerful central European states. It will see the culmination of a process begun 15 years ago when the Berlin Wall fell, and will draw a firm line under the previous four decades of Communist rule. On May 1 Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will be among the countries joining the European Union. Other neighbours such as Romania and Bulgaria still have work to do before they join the EU - but their applications are already in the pending tray in Brussels. Europe is growing, and that is having serious implications for the auto industry.