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Transport and the environment in the applicant countries

The average GDP in the CEECs still lags well behind the existing Member States. More precisely, of the 105 million people living in these countries, more than 98 million are in regions where per capita GDP is less than 75% of the projected average for the enlarged EU.

In all socio-economic sectors - industry, services, transport, the environment, agriculture, skills levels, etc. - these countries have a substantial deficit to make up.

Transport infrastructure provision, for example, is well below average levels in the Union, in terms of both quantity and quality. In particular, a huge amount of work is needed to develop national networks and connect them to the trans-European networks, not to mention the shortfall in intermodality.

On the environmental front, the worst problems are water pollution, waste management and air pollution. Some 40% of the population in the applicant countries do not have running water and only 42% of liquid waste is treated, and then rarely to EU standards.

The Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-accession (ISPA) was developed by the European Commission to help the central and eastern European countries comply with Community environmental and transport standards. With an annual budget of € 1 040 million (1999 prices), ISPA's approach is similar to that of the Cohesion Fund.

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