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Krakow, 25 September 2000

Commissioner Fischler in Poland: Enlargement should be a win-win situation

Speaking to the European Agriculture Congress in Krakow, Franz Fischler, the Commissioner for agriculture, rural development and fisheries, has stressed the need to see enlargement of the Union as a two-sided project. "This project will have succeeded if both sides gain by it. Threats and demands will get us nowhere, negotiations consist of both give and take," the Commissioner said. He also pointed out that it was the clear goal of the Commission that the first accessions should take place before the end of the current Commissioners' term in office (i.e. 2005).

Both the Union and the candidate countries would have to do their homework to make enlargement happen. Dr Fischler mentioned as preconditions in this connection a successful outcome to the Inter-Governmental Conference, a clear financial framework, more dialogue and information and proper preparation in the border regions especially. "I am convinced that enlargement is quite feasible", he said.

In the context of preparing for enlargement, the Commissioner thought that very substantial progress had been made in bringing agricultural markets closer together. The so-called 'double zero' agreements with nine CEECs would increase the duty-free share of their agricultural exports to the Union from 37% to 77%. In the other direction, i.e. from the Union to the CEECs, this proportion would go up from 20% to 37%.

Dr Fischler also referred in his speech to the great significance of rural development. "This is very important to the present Fifteen EU members, but even more so for the applicant countries, which are just beginning to implement structural reforms. Realistically, the agricultural sector in most of the applicant countries will have to undergo structural reform simply to be able to compete. Such restructuring is essential, independent of EU accession. With the EU's rural development programmes, such as SAPARD, there is a chance of cushioning the negative impacts of structural reform."

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