German government defends proposal for delaying free movement of labour

Meanwhile the German government has published a study backing its case for a delay in opening EU labour markets when candidate countries from Eastern Europe join the Union. The study claimed that massive wage differences and poor job prospects in the leading candidate countries could lead to up to four million people from new Eastern member states migrating to the West if the EU opened its doors immediately. The study, by two leading think-tanks, was completed last December, the month Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for a seven-year delay on the free movement of labour from new EU member states. Mr Schroeder's call has been harshly criticised by governments in Eastern Europe, but received strong backing on Thursday from Germany's 16 federal states.

Czechs call for EU exemption for Moravian slivovice

The Czech Republic has asked the European Union for a permanent exemption on legislation governing the production of slivovice, or plum brandy. The Czech News Agency report claimed the distilling of slivovice did not conform to the EU's directives on the production of fruit-based spirits. Mostly produced in Moravia, slivovice differs from similar plum brandies because alcohol is added to the mixture during the distilling process, a procedure banned in the EU.