Bigger EU good for western farmers
WEST European farmers have much to gain from expansion of the EU eastwards, with access to a market of over 100m people.
"With the exception of Hungary, all other countries applying to join the EU are net importers of food," farm commissioner, Franz Fischler, told a meeting of the European Parliaments agriculture committee in Brussels this week. Consumption of high value food products, in particular, would increase faster than in the rest of the EU, he predicted.
And while the EU had already made concessions on import barriers to central European countries, their tariffs would also have to be dismantled once they joined the union. "Our export growth rates are likely to be faster than theirs," said Mr Fischler
Accommodating these countries was one of the driving forces behind the Agenda 2000 CAP reforms, Mr Fischler told the MEPs. EU produce would have to become more competitive to avoid a build-up of surpluses.
• For more one central Europe, see Investing in Hungary, page 26.