16 September 1997
Fraught debate on EU enlargement focuses on cost
A JOINT initiative between Belgium, France and Italy – demanding streamlining of institutions and decision-making before EU enlargement goes ahead to include former Soviet states – is also likely to cause problems for the proposed 2000 expansion.
The joint initiative came out of talks between EU foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday. EU enlargement plans also ran into additional problems at the talks with poorer southern European members complaining that they were not prepared to “foot the bill” to absorb poor, farm-intensive economies from the east. And Germany and Spain clashed over the costs of enlargement.
The Belgian-led move complicated yesterdays debate on the European Commissions Agenda 2000 blueprint. This calls for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and stricter rules on regional aid.
Countries earmarked for inclusion include the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia and Slovenia. The first wave of new entries is expected around 2000-2003.
- Financial Times 16/09/97 page 2, page 23 (leader)
- The Times 16/09/97 page 12