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EU: Poland Wants No Conditions On Membership

Brussels, 9 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Poland's chief negotiator in European Union accession talks has warned the EU that some of its demands on Poland would not be acceptable.

Polish negotiator Jan Kulakowski told a seminar in Brussels yesterday that some of the exceptions the EU is looking for from candidate states do not seem reasonable and might compromise the candidates' competitiveness.

Kulakowski mentioned the attempt by Germany and Austria to deny Polish [and other Central and Eastern European workers] full access to the EU's labor market for up to seven years after enlargement.

He also criticized the EU's reluctance to extend the EU's present agricultural subsidies to the new members. Kulakowski said the absence of subsidies would not allow new members to compete with present members of the EU.

Both EU positions, Kulakowski said, are not acceptable in their present form.

"Poland aims at a fully fledged membership in the European Union, without any kind of second-class membership. We want to take up all the obligations stemming from the acquis communautaire [EU legislation] -- of course, with some necessary transitional arrangements where needed and agreed. But at the same time, we want to have full access to all instruments [and] benefits provided by the acquis as well."

Kulakowski acknowledged that certain transitional arrangements would probably be unavoidable concerning both the free movement of workers and agricultural subsidies. He categorically rejected suggestions, however, that Poland might be forced to make concessions on agriculture in order to ensure its workers quicker access to EU labor markets.

Kulakowski also said it was not impossible that the eventual transitional arrangements on the free movement of workers would be different from country to country. He said some more distant EU members might not need transition periods, and that some candidates farther away from Germany and Austria might receive more lenient treatment from the EU.

Kulakowski said Poland accepts the need to bring its legislation and economy fully in line with EU requirements. He said the temporary exceptions Poland does ask for -- among them a request for an 18-year ban on land sales to foreigners -- are what he called "reasonable."

Kulakowski said Poland remained committed to its initial plan of concluding entry talks by January 2002 to allow for accession in 2003.