Czech agriculture brought step closer to EU

The European Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Franz Fischler, was in Prague on Monday to sign the two agreements aimed at bringing Czech agricultural policies in line with EU requirements. The result will be one of the biggest financial commitments thus far pledged by Brussels to the Czech Republic. Peter Smith has the story.

Mr Fischler co-signed the two documents with the Czech Finance Minster Pavel Mertlik. They take the country one step closer to the implementation of the EU's SAPARD programme, which helps to prepare nine former Eastern Bloc countries for participation in the most taxing and complex Brussels initiative - the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The agreements signal one of the largest ever investments by the EU in candidate countries, and Mr Fischler outlined the details of what it will mean to the Czech Republic. And one thing is certain. The expansion of CAP to accommodate future EU members will be one of the most challenging aspects of the enlargement process. Mr Fischler again. Czech Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik believes that although Euros are always welcome, they is more on offer than simply money. He outlined some of the areas that the government aims to target. The undertaking will be a massive one, but Mr Fischler at least believes that Prague is already a few steps ahead of some fellow candidate countries.