Hans Peter Martin, a German member of the joint EU-Slovak parliamentary committee, has warned that enlargement of the Union may take place in 2005 rather than 2004 due to fears of member states and lack of preparation.
Martin said he had first heard of the possible enlargement postponement from European Commission members and senior German politicians last week in Germany at a congress of the ruling SPD party.
He said reasons included an economic slowdown in western Europe, rising public misgivings about enlargement, elections in France and Germany and tough remaining entry negotiations with candidate countries on agriculture.
While Martin said the Commission was already preparing an exit strategy from plans to expand the Union as of January 1, 2004 to include another 10 members, analysts said news of any delay would remain rumour until it was confirmed publicly by a member of the EC.
Compiled by Tom Nicholson from press reports.
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5. Jun 2002 at 8:40