Brussels, 9 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission is expected to announce later today that 10 mostly postcommunist countries are ready to conclude accession talks in December and join the European Union in 2004. The 10 countries are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta.
The report, to be formally issued in Brussels, is expected to say that the 10 countries are ready to compete inside the EU's single market following their implementation of economic and social reforms.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is expected to present the report after it is approved by the European Commission, the EU's executive body. EU heads of state and government are expected to make a final decision on the new members at a summit in Copenhagen in December.
The report released today is expected to envision further EU expansion as early as 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria could join if they continue on the path of economic and social transformation.
The report is expected to say that Turkey is not yet ready to begin EU accession talks because of continuing concerns over Turkish human rights violations, particularly in prisons, as well as restrictions on media, freedom of expression, and religion.