European Commission report to fulfill Czech expectations?

Ramiro Cibrian

On Wednesday, the European Commission made public the report which analysts have been speculating about for weeks. So is the Czech Republic any closer to membership in the European Union? Linda Mastalir has the details:

issued by the European Commission deals with the Czech Republic's preparedness to enter the European Union, and the country ranks in the third group along with Slovenia, but behind Poland, Hungary, and Estonia, all of which are in the second grouping. At a press conference following the release of the report, the Ambassador of the European Commission to the Czech Republic, Ramiro Cibrian, commented on the analysis given in the national report: The point of controversy with this year's report rests with the economic standing of the Czech Republic. Although results show that the economy has enjoyed a marked improvement over last year, at the same time its economy falls behind that of Poland and Hungary, the other two Central European contenders for early EU membership. This being an obvious concern for Czech officials, Ambassador Cibrian warned against overemphasising economic rankings as economic criteria are not the only criteria for EU membership. According to Cibrian, there is no real difference between the second and third groupings. However, the Czech Republic still needs to reform the civil service, the judicial system, and the structure of the economy.

The Czech Republic's chief EU negotiator, Pavel Telicka, also reacted positively to the report: "We are still talking about 2003 and we will continue talking about 2003, as the date when we want Union membership. Without discussion, January 1, 2003 is our goal," said Telicka.