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1st of May set for EU enlargement day
2002-11-18 14:44:31

By Nicos Bellos-- Brussels, Nov 18 (CNA) ? European Union Foreign Ministers agreed here Monday that the enlargement of the bloc should take place on May 1, 2004. The choice of May 1st for enlargement, instead of January 1st as was originally planned, is to enable the parliaments of all 15 EU member-states ratify in time the accession act.|

In addition, the new date will give ample time to set in operation the "monitoring", i.e. the EU mechanism decided at the Brussels European Council, which will monitor the implementation of the acquis communautaire by the new member-states.

Furthermore, the 1st May date has economic motives, bearing in mind that community subsidies to the farmers of the new member-states and the implementation of programmes, will not begin from January but from May, thus saving the EU money.

The Danish presidency said it was not a change of date but a choice within the timeframe already set. It stressed that the EU had always maintained enlargement would take place before the Euro elections so that the new countries could participate.

During today's meeting the 15 EU foreign ministers, together with their 10 candidate countries' counterparts, ascertained many disagreements on the remaining enlargement chapters, such as Agriculture and Budget.

Candidate countries consider insufficient the Brussels European Council decisions on direct payments to farmers of the candidate countries and the cutbacks on structural expenditure.

However, the Danish Presidency did not allow any room for improving the Brussels decisions, pointing out to the foreign ministers of the candidate countries that this was the final proposal of the 15 member states.

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