EU accession for 10 candidate countries may be pushed back by several months

The Czech Republic has acknowledged that its possible accession to the European Union, together with that of nine other candidate countries, could slip back by several months; the announcement coming in response to a statement made in Brussels on Tuesday, in which Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said that a small delay from the January 1, 2004 date would give parliaments in the 15 current member states more time to study and ratify the accession treaty. Responding to the comment Czech Deputy Foreign Minister and chief EU negotiator Pavel Telicka told reporters on Wednesday that the Czech Republic would continue to seek the earliest date possible, adding that an eventual delay should not create new obstacles. The Czech Republic is one of the 10 mostly ex-Communist countries from central and eastern Europe hoping to finish membership talks by the end of the year, to join the EU as early as January 1, 2004.

Author: Jan Velinger