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EU: Commission Offers Financing Terms For Aspiring Members

Brussels, 30 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission today released a report on financing the costs of enlargement which it says makes a "fair and solid" offer to candidates. The offer foresees a 10-year waiting period before new members will be allowed equal access to the EU's agricultural subsidies, which make up half of the EU's budget.

On accession, farmers in new member states can expect 25 percent of the EU level of subsidies, increasing annually to reach 100 percent in 2013.

The report also says candidates cannot expect equal levels of regional aid until well beyond 2006.

The EU's enlargement commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, said in a statement today that the offer "strikes the right balance between the expectations of the candidate countries...and the budgetary limits of the EU."

He said transitional phases do not mean new members will be given second-class status, while current members need not fear further financial burdens because of enlargement.

Today's proposal -- which does not extend to Bulgaria or Romania -- will serve as a basis for detailed EU negotiating positions. However, the Verheugen statement said the European Commission does not see much room for bargaining in the offer.