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Poland Concessions To The Eu Essay

719 words - 3 pages

Poland's new left-of-centre government has offered the European Union concessions in a number of key negotiating areas. Prime Minister Leszek Miller and his team hope through more accommodating positions on migration of workers and foreign ownership of farmland to catch up with the protracted EU accession talks. Under the former government of Buzek, Poland displayed little willingness for compromise.Under former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Warsaw had insisted on an eighteen-year "grace period" for the sale of farmland to foreigners. Under EU rules, all EU citizens should be able to purchase land in all EU countries. In most candidate countries, this is a hard nut to crack. In comparison with Western EU countries, farmland is considerably cheaper in former communist countries, where in many cases (though not in Poland) farming had been collectivised. There is widespread anxiety, notably in Poland and in Hungary, ...view middle of the document...

The new Miller government has now said it is willing to shorten this to twelve years. Analysts in Warsaw were saying over the past few days that the eighteen-year land sale ban would be appreciably reduced - but for reasons of political expediency, it would still have to be a two-digit figure. A country which less than two months ago elected a parliament in which a third of the delegates are Eurosceptics or even "Poland can do it better alone"-nationalists cannot afford to give in too easily to Brussels.Free Movement of LabourAnother major issue in Poland are the restrictions Brussels wants to place on the free flow of labour from East to West. Germany and Austria are afraid of being invaded by masses of Polish workers willing to be paid relatively low wages for long hours as soon as Poland joins the EU. Germany feels it knows what it is talking about -- 85% of Poland's migrant workforce has found employment there. Berlin and Vienna therefore insist on being allowed to keep their borders closed to workers from the candidate countries for seven years.The European Commission thinks that's too harsh and has come up with a formula under which the labour market remains closed to the new members for at least two years - after which individual member states can make their own arrangements. Up till now, the Polish attitude was one of total lack of understanding of the German, Austrian and EU positions. Now, Warsaw is showing some flexibility: The new foreign minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, has said he still doesn't like the idea of a ban on the free flow of labour of up to seven years, but: "We read the Brussels position as a two-year ban -- and we hope that will be it."Possible RewardsPrime Minister Miller hopes the new Polish flexibility will be rewarded. He thinks Polish farmers should be allowed a fair share of the direct subsidies the EU pays to farmers the moment Poland joins the EU, possibly in 2004. The Western member states want to exclude the newcomers from the funds that have been reserved for farmers under the current budget (which runs until 2006); Warsaw thinks that's unacceptable -- and that has not changed under the new government.

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