Germany reassures Poland on early EU entry

German Chancellor Schröder reassures Polish Prime Minister Buzek on early EU entry

Poland’s request for 18-year ban on sale of agricultural land to non-nationals also remains a source of contention with Germany and the EU. The 15 are willing to concede a seven-year transition period for Polish agricultural land.

The two leaders did not clarify their intentions on enlargement dates. January 2003 remains Poland’s official objective to join the EU, while the leaders of the 15 set 2004 as an objective at their Summit in Gothenburg on 16 June. The German chancellor remains cautious on target dates, however, insisting the EU has set a timetable but did not fix a firm date.

 

Mr Buzek, who faces a general election in September, stressed that Polands wants to make sure it reaches a "quality" accession treaty with the EU in order to win public acceptance. He said the quality was more important than the number of closed chapters.

Mr Schröder stressed that relatively long transition periods would be necessary for Polish job-seekers because the country faces more than 20 percent unemployment and its labour force is several times cheaper than Germany's.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Günther Verheugen defended Poland's position in an interview for Tagesspiegel, where he said that the fact that Poland closed less chapters in accession negotiations does not mean it is progressing badly. He explained that negotiations with Poland are more complex because of the size of the country.

 

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder reassured his Polish counterpart, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, of the EU's commitment that Poland will be among the first countries to join the EU. However, the two leaders did not resolve their outstanding differences, notably on Berlin's request that EU labour markets be closed to Polish workers up to seven years after joining the Union.

 

The meeting was held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the bilateral treaty of friendship. Originally, the Polish government hoped to expand this relationship into a trilateral alliance between Poland, Germany and France that would drive European integration.

 

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