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The enlargement of the European Union

Background


In terms of its share of surface area, gross domestic product and above all employment, agriculture plays a much greater role in many of the thirteen applicant countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey) than in the present European Union. The main task in most applicant countries will be to reduce the serious over-reliance on agriculture and overcome the major socio-structural problems.

Since the intensification of the enlargement process in 1997, the pre-accession strategy of the EU has been reinforced by Accession Partnerships, participation by candidates in Community programmes and work carried out under the European Agreements. On 14 June 2000, the Agriculture Chapter of the acquis is formally opened for negotiation with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.

Preparation of farming and the agri-food industry for EU accession will hinge on the development of workable markets and marketing channels, improving plant health and veterinary standards and the development of agricultural administrative and control structures.

The EU's Sapard (Special accession programme for agriculture and rural development) will assist the implementation of the Community acquis [cfr Article 2 of Regulation 1268/1999 pdf][Corrigendum pdf]. It will also support measures to enhance efficiency and competitiveness in farming and the food industry and create employment and sustainable economic development in rural areas. The programme will have a budget of EUR 520 million (in 1999 money) per year until 2006. For Cyprus and Malta the Council decided on a specific financial pre-accession programme. More information on other pre-accession assistance can be found at the Enlargement site.

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