After 15 months of negotiations Slovakia and the European Union yesterday reached agreement on the tax 'chapter' of pre-entry requirements. Slovakia has now met obligations in 23 of 29 areas the EU requires of candidate countries. The country's main negotiator for EU entry, Ján Figeľ, said Bratislava had won all eight of its bids for temporary relief from EU rules, meaning that the domestic price of gas, electricity and heating energy will not rise as much as expected because Slovakia will not be obliged to place them in a higher consumption tax category. Taxes on construction work related to housing will also be lower, as will tax on cigarettes and hard alcohol. The exceptions are good for one to four years after predicted entry in 2004, although the country is lobbying for permanent exceptions in some cases.
Compiled by Tom Nicholson from press reports.
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