Source Pravda.Ru

EU: expansion by 2004?

The European Union is preparing to discuss a document the forthcoming weekend at the Summit of Seville, which prepared the way for ten new member states in January, 2004. The document is being prepared by Spain, which is hosting the EU presidency.

The document declares that “It seems reasonable to expect the signing of the Treaty of Adhesion in March 2003, making its application possible in January, 2004”. This would mean that the new member states would take part in the next EU elections, in June, 2004.

Spain has already started to draw up the text of the Treaty of Adhesion, which is set to start a hot debate among the current 15 member states regarding agricultural subsidies to be paid to the new members. With the EU already producing an excess of food, it will have to assimilate countries like Poland, which has around 25% of its 40,000,000 population working in the tertiary sector and who will have to live on subsidies for the foreseeable future.

Germany and Austria, for example, fear that they will foot an unreasonable portion of the bill and are against direct payments to farmers in Eastern Europe. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder declared recently that “The expansion of the current agricultural policy to 25 countries would bring additional costs of 8 bn. Euro for Germany alone, adding that Germany would not be prepared to pay such a sum.

Another block of countries, led by France, state that the payment of direct subsidies is already part of EU law, from which the ten new member states have the right to benefit. The ten new members are Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Malta and Cyprus. Romania and Bulgaria hope to join but it is generally considered that they will have to wait for a second wave, possibly in 2007.

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru

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