26 January 1996

Dont let eastern four into EU until theyre well ready

EASTERN European nations should not be allowed to join the EU until they can compete on an equal footing, according to German farm minister Jochim Borchert.

Mr Borchert said large-scale reductions in the agricultural labour force of the Visograd Four (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) were needed prior to accession. He hinted this was unlikely until single monetary union was in force, though he stressed Germany would meet the economic criteria.

Speaking on the eve of Berlin Green Week, Mr Borchert said the same restructuring as had occurred in East Germany, where the farm labour force has fallen from 850,000 at the 1989/90 unification to 175,000 now, would be needed among the Visograd Four.

His view was shared by the German Farmers Union president Freiherr Heereman, who said the inclusion of Central and Eastern European nations would take place, but not at the cost of the demise of the 30-year-old CAP.

Mr Heereman said genuine opportunities for greater integration would only exist if a policy was adopted which dismantled protectionist shackles and created greater trust. He cited problems over the lack of support from the UK over the single currency.

"As long as there are distortions in the competitive position as a result of currency variations, we shall emphatically insist on currency equalisation payments, and this should be heeded by Brussels and Bonn alike."

Franz Fischler, EU Agriculture Commissioner, emphasised the need for economic and monetary union, though this would be hard to attain for some nations.

"Monetary stability is very important for our CAP, and the distorting effects of economic divergence and monetary turbulence on European agricultural policy and markets are now in the past."

&#8226 The enhanced links between East and West were shown by the presence of Russian deputy farm minister Ivan Ushazov at a trade marketing seminar.

Franz Fischler:

"The distorting effects of monetary turbulence are now in the past."

Jochim Borchert: Abig reduction in the eastern European agricultural labour force is needed.