Telicka calls for faster EU membership talks

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In Stockholm on Tuesday, the Czech Republic's deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator for EU membership, Pavel Telicka, called to speed up membership talks, saying that it was "high time to change gears". Although Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, recently said the EU expansion could be 2005 instead of the expected 2003, membership talks need to be held much earlier.

Staying with Europe, we move from the Council of Europe to the European Union, where human rights issues are not the only points current candidate countries to EU accession are focusing on. In Stockholm on Tuesday, the Czech Republic's deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator for EU membership, Pavel Telicka, called to speed up membership talks, saying that it was "high time to change gears". Although Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, recently said the EU expansion could be 2005 instead of the expected 2003, membership talks need to be held much earlier. Mr. Kreuter, the advisor to Pavel Telicka, explains: Mr. Telicka, who heads the Foreign Ministry's department for the co-ordination of relations with the EU, told EU members that in preparations for EU accession, the Czech Republic has faced problems, but is now ready to take on more. By the time France hands over its current EU presidency to Sweden at the end of the year, Telicka expects to have tackled several key issues such as agriculture, the environment, and competition.

Since the start of the year, the Czech authorities have been very active in preparing for EU accession, following international criticism over human rights issues and legislation. But current EU member states still fear an influx of cheap labour and organised crime. It may be clear what the Czech Republic will gain from EU membership, but Radio Prague asked Mr. Kreuter what the Czech Republic, in return, has to offer to the EU: