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European Union: Entry Of New Members Could Take A Decade

Brussels, 17 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A high-ranking European Union (EU) official dealing with Central European candidate states says their entry into the Brussels-based group could take as long as a decade.

Sipke Brouwer, the EU Executive Commission's Director for Central Europe, told our correspondent yesterday that the 10 area states that have signed so-called Europe Agreements with the EU will not begin admission negotiations before early 1998.

Thereafter, Brouwer said, it will take at least two years and perhaps as long as eight years before bilateral negotiations with each of the candidates are completed.

The 10 candidate states, all categorized as Central European by the EU, are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Of the 10 Europe accords signed, six have been ratified by all EU member states. The four others -- with the three Baltic states and Slovenia -- are expected to be fully ratified by early next year.