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Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 13:36 GMT
Schroeder plea for Nice accord
Gerhard Schroeder and Jerzy Buzek
Smiles as Schroeder offers Buzek German support
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has appealed to fellow European Union leaders to put narrow national concerns behind them at this weeks summit in the French city of Nice.

"Let's be brave. Let national interests remain in second place and European interests be the priority," Mr Schroeder said on a one-day visit to Poland.

His comments were welcomed by the Polish Prime Minister, Jerzy Buzek, who is pushing for Poland's early entry into the EU.

Mr Schroeder's call for courage comes amid fears that the Nice summit may fail to take the critical decisions necessary to pave the way for the admission of new members from central and eastern Europe.

"I can't imagine a situation in which Poland would not be part of the first group of EU enlargement," Mr Schroeder told reporters during a joint press conference with Mr Buzek.

Farming fears

And he repeated his belief that Poland should be admitted by 2003.

Correspondents say Polish leaders are concerned that entry could be delayed because of fears over the high cost for Brussels of subsidising Polish farming.

Applicant countries are fearful that disputes between existing members over EU reform will push aside discussions about enlarging the organisation.

All this year negotiators have been trying to agree on how to reform the EU's institutions and streamline the mechanism for deciding on and implementing new policies.

All members agree that this is essential to avoid paralysis, as the membership rises from 15 countries today to 25 or 30.

Most would say that without agreement on reform, enlargement of the union is impossible.

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See also:

14 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Blair rules out 'European superstate'
27 Jun 00 | Europe
Chirac pushes two-speed Europe
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