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Maurer: EU enlargement timetable to go on as foreseen
2002-07-24 17:19:24

Nicosia, July 24 (CNA) -- The timetable for EU enlargement will go on as foreseen, Chief EU negotiator with Cyprus Leopold Maurer stressed today, adding that the Laaken and Seville EU Councils have made it clear that the candidate countries will accede to the EU in early 2004.

The Austrian EU official is on the island with his team to discuss the final stages of the accession negotiations with Cyprus' accession team under Chief Negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou.

Maurer told reporters that when Austria, Sweden and Finland were at the same pre-accession stage as Cyprus and the other candidate countries, rumours were going round that enlargement might be delayed.

He added "you have to look at what the member states said two times, in Laaken and Seville, that the new members, probably ten, should accede at the beginning or during 2004 so that they can take part to the European Parliament elections in 2004".|

During today's meeting, both teams continued discussions of the final chapters under negotiation and Maurer expressed certainty that the negotiations will be concluded by December at the latest.

For Cyprus, the chapter of agriculture and budget still remain open, whereas the chapter of institutions is not under negotiation with any candidate country.

Maurer also said that the Commission will prepare its regular report on Cyprus and will give its final assessment of Cyprus' preparation for membership.

"In this context we had very positive discussions and I cannot say anything negative until now. The progress of Cyprus is very good", the EU official noted.

Vassiliou described the Commission's report on Cyprus "a passport for the final approval of Cyprus' accession to the EU".

"We are in the pleasant position to announce that the report, as it seems, will be a very positive one because Cyprus has basically fulfilled all commitments towards the EU", Vassiliou said.

He added that significant legislative work has been done and expressed certainty that by the end of the year the House of Representatives will have approved all legislations.

Replying to questions, Maurer said the Commission is expecting to see the liberalisation of the field of telecommunications.

Referring to the chapter on taxation, which Cyprus closed this year, Maurer expressed gratitude to Vassiliou, Minister of Finance Takis Klerides and the House of Representatives for closing this chapter.

Cyprus opened accession negotiations with the EU in April 1998 and has so far provisionally closed 28 out of 31 chapters of the acquis communautaire.

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