Telicka: Closing EU accession chapters not a race to the finishing line

Pavel Telicka

It's just over two months to go before a crucial date on the calendar of European Union enlargement - December 12th, when leaders of the EU and the 13 candidate countries gather in the Danish capital Copenhagen. By that date up to ten candidates - including the Czech Republic - are expected to have closed all thirty chapters of legislation required for accession to the EU. The Czechs still have five chapters to go - one of them being agriculture. Daniela Lazarova spoke to the country's chief EU negotiator Pavel Telicka, and began by asking him whether Czech farmers would be happy with the outcome of the negotiations.

"I don't think that our goal is to make Czech farmers happy, I don't think that this is it. If we were to satisfy everyone and make everyone happy, I don't think that we would ever finish the negotiations. I think that we need to know what are our legitimate national interests, what are the legitimate of interests of your farming sector, or rather the legitimate interests of our farmers, and also what are the political and economic realities in the Union. And that of course has to be taken into account when you negotiate. So we won't necessarily satisfy every single farmer."

But Czech farmers will be able to survive on the deal you make?

"That is a different issue. Sure, if the results would be that there would be serious implications for farmers, then that would be a failure. And our goal is exactly the opposite: it is to create a competitive position, which means that only a really bad farmer who just does not do what he should do and is really uncompetitive might not survive. But I think that we would like to roughly keep the current volume of our agriculture sector as it is. But I don't think that as a result of our accession we would like to see numbers and numbers of farmers going bankrupt, no."

As well as agriculture the Czechs still have to close negotiations on economic competition, budgetary policy, institutions and transport. With five chapters still to go, the Czech Republic finds itself right at the bottom of the league table of leading candidates. But Pavel Telicka says the accession talks are not a race, and the most important thing is to guarantee the best possible conditions for EU entry.

"It's fine with me. Three would be fine with me. Seven would be fine with me. To tackle ten chapters, that already would raise some concerns. But I think that we are in the margins of being able to achieve the end of the negotiations by December. So what is more important is really the content of the chapters. So whether there are five to go, or six or four, at the moment doesn't matter that much. But what matters is - what kind of production quotas will we get? Under what conditions will we close the transport chapter? What about institutions: will we have two less or two more seats in the European Parliament? This is what matters to me as a negotiator. And I could say that I am happy that we are not under political pressure to calculate the number of chapters."

The Czech Republic's chief negotiator for EU enlargement, Pavel Telicka, ending that report. And we'll be bringing you detailed coverage and analysis of the Copenhagen summit in December.