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Poland: British Minister Encourages EU Enlargement

Warsaw, 28 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- British Secretary Robin Cook said in Warsaw today Britain has a new vision of an enlarged European Union in which their residents will have more prosperous lives.

"I want a European Union that helps create jobs, fight crime and protect the environment," he said at a conference on Poland's future in the EU. He said Britain, which is taking over Presidency over the EU in a few weeks, is determined to implement the promises he has recently given in Budapest, Prague and now in Warsaw on the EU enlargement. "Britain is honored that the first Accession negotiations should start during our Presidency," he said.

Cook gave no concrete dates as regards admission targets but said it will take place "as soon as Polish enterprises are ready to stand their ground in the world's biggest single market." "No country should be admitted as a second class member," he said. He praised Poland's preparation for membership but added "There is still much to be done."

Cook said not only Poland has to continue restructuring its economy but the EU countries as well. "Reform of the common agricultural policy will be one of the key themes of our Presidency," he said. Poland has a large agricultural sector which is considered as the biggest problem for the country's integration with the EU. Cook said the sector is reformable and the Polish consumers should not be afraid of higher food prices when Poland is the EU member. Leszek Balcerowicz, Polish Finance Minister, said that both the EU and Poland have to be reformed. "The new Polish government is committed to reforms," he said. Balcerowicz said the enlargement of EU will have not only a positive economic impact the community but also a moral one. "It will end division of Europe and will enhance peace and stability in the region," he said.

The Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek said at the same conference the EU will benefit from the enlargement process. He said the EU will get almost 40 million consumers, fast growing Polish economy, well educated and dynamic people and the country which has good relation with its eastern neighbors.