Zeman in Belgium for talks on EU and investment

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In an official visit to Belgium, Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has been holding talks with the Belgium government on EU expansion. During these talks, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced that he had asked the European Commission to put forward the release of evaluation reports on the accession preparations of candidate countries by one month. These reports, the Belgian prime minister said, could then be discussed and assessed at an informal EU summit in Gent in October. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said that the current EU presidency of Sweden, and that of Belgium, which begins in June, will be key for the EU enlargement process.

Telicka: 2001 watershed year for EU accession

The Czech Republic's negotiator for EU accession, Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka, says that 2001 will be a watershed year for expansion of the Union. Mr. Telicka's statement came after a meeting with the head of the European Commission for Enlargement, Enek Landaburu, in Brussels. According to Mr. Telicka, Mr. Landaburu said that this year will definitely bring progress to the expansion process, and will depend not just on the accession negotiations, but also the European Commission's evaluation report for candidate countries, due out in the autumn. This report will apparently set the criteria for which candidates will accede to the Union in the first wave of expansion. The main issues facing Czech membership are, according to Mr. Telicka, whether the country functions as a free market economy and national debt.