Brussels, 14 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- European Union leaders begin a two-day summit today aimed at preparing the 15-nation bloc to take in new members in the next decade. The meeting, in Laeken outside of Brussels, is expected to launch a fresh round of reform talks to pave the way for 27 new members.
The leaders also will try to finalize plans to equip the EU with its own 60,000-strong military force.
Other topics on the agenda are the fight against terrorism, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Balkans, and the introduction of the euro single currency on 1 January 2002.
Discussions on Afghanistan will focus on what role Europe can play in the country's security and reconstruction.
The EU leaders are expected to meet tomorrow with leaders of the 12 candidate countries already negotiating to join the EU by 2004.