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Prodi hopeful for accession talks to be concluded
2002-10-24 10:56:38

Brussels, Oct 24 (CNA) -- EU Commission President Romano Prodi said here today that the Brussels summit opening this evening should give the Commission a ''reference framework'' on the budgetary issues of enlargement, so that it could conclude accession negotiations with the ten candidate countries before the European Council meeting in Copenhagen mid-December.

''We want a clear framework from the 15 member states so we can have flexibility for negotiations with the candidate countries. We do not want them to face a take it or leave it situation,'' Prodi said at a pre-summit press briefing here.|

The best guarantee for success is that we have plenty of room for discussion, he added.

Prodi predicted it would still be possible to wrap up accession negotiations with ten countries - including Cyprus - at Copenhagen even if the Brussels summit failed to provide the framework he wanted and specific figures for outstanding budgetary issues, but noted it would be more difficult.

''We want decisions on the political level at Brussels so that we can proceed with the technical issues. We don't want to leave both jobs for Copenhagen,''he said.

Prodi said the Brussels Council was ''a very targeted one'' and had a simple agenda. Singling out enlargement, which is the main issue on the agenda for the two-day summit of the leaders of the 15 member states, he was hopeful they would endorse the Commission's proposal to conclude accession negotiations with the ten candidate countries before the Copenhagen summit, with the aim of signing the accession treaty in Athens next April.

He was also hopeful that the Brussels summit would reach decisions regarding what he called ''the most tricky issue'' of direct support to farmers in the new member states, describing the Commission's proposals as ''balanced and fair.'' He reiterated that these proposals were in line with the decisions of the 1999 Berlin summit.

The financial issues will be discussed at the working dinner this evening for the heads of state or government of the 15 members of the EU. The dinner will be preceded by a meeting with the chairman of the Convention on the future of Europe, former president of France Valery Giscard d' Estaing.

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