Eurocrat doubts 2004 enlargement

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 in 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.

Analysts, however, said news of any delay would remain rumour until it was confirmed publicly by a member of the EC.

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