The Danish Presidency has presented a negotiation package aimed at concluding entry negotiations with the 10 accession candidates before the Copenhagen EU Council on 12-13 December.
On 25 November, the Danish Presidency presented to Member
States proposals for individual compromise negotiation packages for
each of the 10 candidate countries that are due to accede in 2004.
The proposal, drawn up in collaboration with the Commission, was
communicated to the candidate countries a day later. If agreed,
membership negotiations could be concluded with most of the
applicants before the Copenhagen Council on 12-13 December.
The package represents the Presidency’s final
negotiation offer to the candidate countries, covering all
outstanding issues. The proposal aims to ensure that the candidates
will be financially better off after accession than prior to their
EU membership. The packages offer upward adjustments of several
important agricultural quotas, including milk quotas.
According to sources, the Danish proposal sets
the membership contributions of newly acceding countries at 2.5
billion euros, which would nearly halve the candidates’
conributions to the EU budget in 2004. This is partly the result of
the EU’s decision to open its doors from 1 May 2004 only, four
months later than the original plan. Denmark also proposes a
compensation payment to ensure that candidate countries will not
become net contributors immediately. The proposal would allow new
member states to top up direct payments to farmers from their
national budgets and other EU funds. The plan also includes over
one billion euros for strengthening border security and improving
Sources report that Member State representatives
have found the proposal “too generous”. Candidate country diplomats
were quoted as saying that they would fight until the last moment
for a better deal.
The Presidency aims at concluding negotiations
with the 10 candidates at foreign ministers level on 9-10 December.
In accordance with the decision made at the Brussels European
Council (24-25 October), the EU would then conclude accession
negotiations with 10 countries at the Copenhagen Council on 12-13
December and sign the Accession Treaty in Athens in April 2003.