Poland is expected to ask the EU to reopen negotiations on the free movement of goods in order to secure longer transition periods for Polish pharmaceutical companies for drug registration procedures. Political analysts see the move as a setback, which could delay Poland’s progress in the enlargement process.
Polish pharmaceutical companies say they are unable to implement EU rules without transition periods. However, Poland would fall behind other candidates if it reopens this chapter. All candidate countries except Bulgaria and Romania have concluded negotiations on the free movement of goods.
Poland has concluded negotiations on this chapter without a transition period, which means that Polish pharmaceutical companies have to register all their products according to EU standards immediately upon accession rather than wait until the expiration of their five-year permits.
The price of Polish medicines, now three to four times cheaper than EU products, would rise immediately if Poland had to adopt EU rules on accession, according to the Polish pharmaceutical industry.
Poland is currently lagging behind other front-runner candidates in accession negotiations. It has so far only closed 17 out of 30 chapters, while Cyprus has closed 23, Hungary 22, Slovenia 21, and the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovakia 19 each. The EU plans to conclude negotiations with the front-runners by the end of 2002.