|Author (Person)||Abbott, Dennis|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.23, 7.6.01, p2|
BELGIAN Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said this week that under his nation's EU presidency all the countries vying to join an enlarged Union will be treated on equal terms.
Belgium takes over the EU reins on 1 July and has vowed to push accession negotia-tions forward during its six-month term.
However, in a keynote speech this week, Verhofstadt made it clear that none of the applicants would be guaranteed a place in the 'first wave' of new members unless they carried out all the pre-accession reforms necessary. "Each member state will be treated on its own merits and on the basis of a complete and effective implementation of the acquis communautaire," he said.
He stressed that it was only by sharing common values such as democracy, respect for human rights, social protection of the weak, a market economy and peaceful existence that the political and cultural identity of Europe could be retained. "The enlargement of the European Union is as crucial for European history as the reunification of Germany was for German history," he added.
Verhofstadt's carefully-chosen words about equal treatment for applicants will be seen by some observers as a warning to Poland, which has closed just 16 of the 30 chapters necessary to meet the Union's entry standards. But they could put the Belgian presidency on a collision course with the European Commission, whose enlargement chief Günter Verheugen has insisted that Poland must be in the first wave.
Verhofstadt, who was addressing the American European Community Association in Brussels, also re-stated the Belgian presidency's determination to ensure that the introduction of euro notes and coins would be organised "smoothly and serenely". "For the first time in the history of the Union, citizens will be faced with a tangible result of European integration," he said. "A successful introduction of the euro will increase the trust of the citizen in the EU as well as the credibility of the single currency."
Preview of Belgium's presidency of the EU, July-December 2001.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Belgium|