EU candidates determined to clinch best possible deal

Ahead of the final formal negotiation session at foreign ministers’ level on 9-10 December, candidate countries are joining efforts to reach a better deal, particularly in the area of direct farm support.

Candidate countries are scheduled to meet the EU on 2-3 December in Brussels to give their official response to the Danish proposal that was presented to them on 26 November. The package represents the Presidency’s “final” negotiation offer to the accession candidates, covering all outstanding issues (see alsoEURACTIV 28 November 2002).

The “Visegrad Four” (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) pledged to join efforts for a better deal, particularly, on direct income support for their farmers and better production concessions. The prime ministers of the four countries are expected to publish a joint article later this week in leading newspapers in France, Germany and the UK to explain their position.

According to sources, Warsaw still expects increased direct payments for farmers, an increase in agricultural production quotas, more support for border controls and higher budget rebates. Laszlo Kovacs, Hungary’s Foreign Minister, suspects that either the issue of farm support or the discussion on the financial terms will remain to be settled in Copenhagen. “I think we can close one, but not both” before the summit, he said.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is currently on a tour of the EU Member States to gain support for the negotiation package.

The last formal negotiation round with the 10 candidates at foreign ministers level is scheduled for 9-10 December. The EU is expected to formally conclude accession negotiations with them at the Copenhagen Council on 12-13 December and sign the Accession Treaty in Athens in April 2003.


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