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EU: Germany Makes Poland Compromise Offer

Copenhagen, 13 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder offered a compromise today to Poland to try to resolve the budget wrangle which he said threatens to derail the "historic" Copenhagen summit. According to Schroeder, the EU should advance Poland 1 billion euros during the period from 2004 to 2006 in funds which -- although budgeted for that period -- would become available later due to the slow speed of EU decision making.

Schroeder said 8.64 billion of the roughly 20 billion euros that Poland stands to receive between 2004-06 would, in reality, only become available from 2007 onwards.

Observers say advancing 1 billion euros of these late receipts would solve Poland's cash-flow problems -- Poland has been demanding the EU increase its financing offer by roughly the same amount -- while simultaneously costing nothing extra to the EU, as member states have already allocated funds for 2004-06 budget payments.

At the same time, other candidate countries with similar problems would be eligible for a combined advance of 300 million euros in 2004-06.

Schroeder said his compromise proposal will now be discussed by Poland and all 15 EU heads of state and government.

Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson later said he has reason to believe Poland is about to accept the enlargement deal. Speaking at a press conference, Persson described the enlargement process as "safely in harbor."