Foreign ministers of ten EU candidate countries showed unity in Prague
The ten countries in the forefront to join the European Union in the next round of enlargement put on a show of unity at a meeting in Prague on Tuesday. While the fifteen current EU members remain divided over how a bigger Europe will work, foreign ministers from the ten applicant countries said they were keen to proceed hand in hand in the final phase of their accession talks. Alena Skodova has more:
But they also pointed to several outstanding issues, which have not been fully resolved yet: they made it clear that as a group "speaking with one voice" they wanted to fight for substantially better financial and budgetary positions than they are now being offered, and on the delicate issue of agriculture, they also showed unity in their desire to fight for the same privileges enjoyed by farmers in Western Europe.
Delegates also took the opportunity to remind their colleagues in the EU that by joining they will be taking on significant new commitments. For example, the Slovenian Foreign Minister pointed to new security responsibilities, hinting that the current members should be offering extra financial support.
"We will be defending the external borders of the European Union once we become members. And this is something that perhaps some people in Europe are not appreciating enough. This will mean extremely high costs for many of our countries, and we have also discussed this aspect."
Tuesday's meeting in Prague confirmed the will of EU candidates to work together as a lobby for their common interests. Their commitment to the EU will be reassuring to the current 15 members, but their willingness to push for their interests could also make for some tough talks ahead.