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No 5 (October 96/Octobre 96/Oktober 96)
The Commission is in the process of preparing its opinions on the applications to join the European Union from ten countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovenia). The EU's Council of Ministers has consulted the Commission on all these applications in accordance with Article O of the EU Treaty.
The European Councils in Madrid in 1995 and in Florence in June 1996 invited the Commission to expedite preparation of its opinions on the applications, so that they could be forwarded to the Council as soon as possible after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC). The IGC is expected to conclude in mid-1997. Once the Commission delivers its opinions, the Council is due to decide within six months of the end of the IGC which countries should be included in the initial phase of negotiations and to launch accession negotiations.
The principal object of an opinion is to guide the Council in its decision whether to open accession negotiations with an applicant country. The opinions will include a detailed description of the political and economic situation in each applicant country; an evaluation of its capacity to adopt and implement the "acquis communautaire"; an assessment of the impact of accession (principally on the applicant country but also on the Union), an indication of possible problems in that respect and a recommendation concerning the opening of negotiations.
The opinions will need to provide an overview of the applicants' current and future situation. Technical questions in the form of a questionnaire concerning all areas of Union policies were sent in April 1996. Replies were received at the end of July 1996 and are being examined by the Commission services.
For more information,