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Vol 2, No 30
11 September 2000
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EU News News from Brussels
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since 2 September 2000

Ivana Gogova

European Commission firmly sets views on enlargement

Comments made by enlargement commissioner Günter Verheugen in the German press earlier last weekend stirred up debates and some doubts regarding the accession process. These, however, were duly resolved by a joint statement from the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, and Verheugen to the European Parliament on Thursday.

They reiterated their commitment to the enlargement process, while stressing the need for wider public support within the member states. [Read other stories on these EU developments from the Hungarian , German and British perspectives]

Verheugen remarked that a referendum in Germany should be held in order for the accession of Eastern European candidates to proceed. This was generally seen by Germany as well as by candidates as delaying the process. Thus some doubt was cast on the Commission's commitment to enlargement. In addition, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer openly spoke out against such a possibility.

Rather than being the object of "populist politics," enlargement should be underlined by wider public understanding of the process itself and the issues it involves, the German Industry Federation BDI pointed out. Furthermore, Fischer demonstrated expectations of the first accessions occurring by 2005.

As a result of the controversy stirred up by Verheugen, he and President Prodi came before the European Parliament on Thursday, 7 September 2000. The President first emphasised an "unconditional commitment to take forward the challenge and task of enlargement." He also stressed that enlargement should proceed as soon and as swiftly as possible. The date for first accessions, he pointed out, was 1 January 2003.

Verheugen also implied that his previous personal views on a referendum for enlargement expressed the perceived need for a broad consensus and support for the process. Thus, given the already tangible progress of the candidate countries, he pointed out that accession of candidates is contingent upon wide ranging cooperation of the member states as well as support from the European Parliament.

In addition, Mr Prodi stated the necessity to present EU Enlargement as an immense opportunity, rather than a threat, to the citizens of the member states. In other words, the economic advantages of the process as well as a broad-ranging debate on the issues involved should be brought to the fore, it was stressed. Thus an official intention for launching an information campaign regarding the enlargement process was put forward.

The clarified position of Verheugen and Prodi as well as their intentions for the future of the enlargement process were welcomed by the MEPs. Their following comments all expressed the desirability of a smooth, uninterrupted accession together with a wide public support and understanding of the process.


Euro Parliament calls for target dates

This week the European Parliament has produced two drafts calling on measures that should make accession periods and targets tangible in the foreseeable future. Along with the long-standing difficulties with the administrative and institutional capacities of the applicant countries, the need for transition periods for the movement of capital, goods and people was also emphasised upon.

The European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs prepared a draft resolution on convergence and stability of the candidate countries at the beginning of the week. The latter was brought to the attention of the European Commission and suggested the introduction of transition periods for the free movement of capital, goods and people. These periods are to be established according to reports on the individual countries.

The Committee emphasised the importance of financial stability for the banking system and real economy. Hence the liberalization of short-term capital movements in particular was one of the priorities set out in the draft resolution. As for the medium term, applicant countries were advised to adopt exchange rate policies linked to the euro as soon as possible, if they have not done so yet.

However, the need for pragmatic approaches was of major concern since the credibility of the local currency should not be undermined. In addition, improving the reliability of banking supervision was pointed out as another way of strengthening the banking and financial systems in the applicant countries.

At the same time, the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs presented a draft report calling for clear target dates for accession of the individual countries. These, it was implied, were to be produced after the Intergovernmental Conference to be held in Nice this December.

Until then, the report suggests that further efforts should be made towards strengthening the administrative capacities of the candidates. Thus, the process of implementation of EU legislation and financial control would be facilitated, it was argued. Moreover, effective financial control together with firm audit procedures are believed to help resolving problems of corruption and organized crime.


Euro Parliament's Turkish aid vote

On Wednesday 6 September 2000, the European Parliament adopted a resolution which fostered the existing position on aid for Turkey. On one hand, the decision was motivated by human and minority rights concerns, and on the other, by environmental and perhaps security issues. Overall, the resolution was in conjunction with the specific requirements for Turkey's prospective EU membership.

One of the amendments points out that aid should be used for pro-democracy measures. Particular attention is paid to the ones seeking to abolish capital punishment. Despite expressed willingness on behalf of Turkey to change its legal system, General Philippe Morillion (France) said that such a move should be accompanied by a change of mentality too; the latter, however, although central to EU accession, was not regarded as a feasible option in the near future.

Another amendment focuses on the need to resolve the Kurdish problem, which, it was implied, was not to be understated. Efforts to facilitate cooperation in this respect were promoted. At the same time, Turkey's reaction was quite reserved. There is an undercurrent anxiety among the higher echelons of administration and mainly the military that attempts to resolve the Kurdish issue might endanger the political, social and even territorial integrity of the country.

Finally, the last amendment sought to ensure that no aid would be used for the development of nuclear power, especially in earthquake zones. On one hand, this expresses a clear concern with the environmental safety of the region—an issue that is not new to other applicant countries such as Bulgaria and currently the Czech Republic. However, it can be arguably perceived as a more implicit concern with security issues which have a long-standing history on the Balkans.

On the whole, Verheugen officially pointed out that the financial aid to Turkey is aimed at preparing the country on the political, social and economic fronts for negotiations on accession.

Ivana Gogova, 9 September 2000

Moving on:


Financial Times
European Parliament Daily Notebook



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Ghost Train

Martin D Brown
Greece Has the Life

Michael J Kopanic
Joining the Club

Joanna Rohozińska
Poland: Lustration woes

Mel Huang
Baltic Layover

Sam Vaknin
The Eureka Connection

Rob Stout
Karl Marx Reviewed

Ray Privett
Banned into Determination

NATO: A waste

Dejan Anastasijevic
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Corruption

Andrew James Horton
Yugoslav Film

Delia Dumitrica
Hungarians in Romania

Andrew Stroehlein
Czechs and Germans

Sam Vaknin
Post-Communist Disappointment

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