EU says no to special favours
DEMANDS by central and east European countries for special treatment when they join the EU have been largely rejected by Brussels, which is loath to grant too many derogations as part of the enlargement process.
A new paper sent to the governments of existing member states makes it clear the candidate countries will have to meet in full most of the standards pertaining in the west.
"Their accession bids contained a long list of requests for exemptions from EU law," said a commission spokesman. For example, Poland wants a two-tier approach to food safety, with one set of rules for its internal market and a higher set for exports to the EU. "This would be hard to accommodate in a single European market."
Land ownership would also have to be in line with EU law, despite demands of many CEECs to continue banning foreigners.
On the vexed question of paying direct aids to producers, the paper is deliberately vague, except to say that it will be dealt with at a later stage. "The lack of reliable statistical data makes it very difficult for us to say anything more on this matter," said the spokesman.
Despite this, farm commissioner, Franz Fischler, has again hinted that some aid will have to be paid, if the EU is to also impose supply controls on the new members. In a recent speech to EU farmers body, COPA, he said this would be necessary to avoid a massive stock build-up and may involve extra funding, above what was forseen at last years Berlin summit.
The aim is to finalise the document by July, triggering the start of full-scale negotiations with the first wave of new members. *