Brussels, 21 November 2000 (RFE/RL) - EU Enlargement Commission Guenter Verheugen said today in Brussels that dividing prospective new EU members into first-wave candidates and second-wave candidates is no longer meaningful. After meeting with the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, and Slovakia -- long considered second-wave candidates, Verheugen said two of them have caught up with the former first-wave applicants -- Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.
He said: "Because at least two of them have already caught up, they are already so close to the countries which are negotiating for more than two years, that we simply must give up the concept of groups. We have already dissolved that concept in our enlargement strategy paper and in our regular reports."
Verheugen did not specify the two countries that have moved up to the status of frontrunners. EU representatives in the past have singled out Malta and Slovakia as second-wave leaders.