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European Union Postpones Expansion to 2005

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BRUSSELS, Belgium * Despite all the hoopla about speedy expansion south and eastwards, the European Union has pushed back the entry date of candidate countries to, at the very earliest, the second half of 2004. The news comes as a huge disappointment to countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Czech Republic, among others, which hoped […]

BRUSSELS, Belgium * Despite all the hoopla about speedy expansion south and eastwards, the European Union has pushed back the entry date of candidate countries to, at the very earliest, the second half of 2004. The news comes as a huge disappointment to countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Czech Republic, among others, which hoped to join the European Union by 1 January 2003. According to a special expansion committee, negotiations won’t be rounded off until the end of 2002. It will take another year or two before the memberships are ratified by current member states. The new expansion date is now set for 1 January 2005. Though it supposedly had no influence on the EU’s decision, many member states are against expansion. In fact, only three are categorically for it: Sweden, Denmark and Greece. In a recent poll, only 38% of EU citizens are for expansion.
According to Minister Prodi, all the potential members currently meet the political criteria needed to enter the Union. However, there are still serious issues to deal with, like the judicial system, corruption, the environment and construction.(JW)

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