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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
EU pledges fast accession for Hungary

The European Union Commissioner for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, has said he's confident talks with Hungary on EU membership can be concluded by the end of next year.

Mr Verheugen made the comments after discussions in Budapest with the Hungarian foreign minister, Janos Martonyi.

He said the point of no return for Hungarian membership had already passed, and Hungarians could be taking part in EU institutions by the year 2004. He expressed optimism on the speedy completion of outstanding issues, such as agriculture, the free movement of labour, and environmental policies. Meanwhile, the European Commission president, Romano Prodi -- who's also in Hungary -- has said the EU should abandon fears that it will be overrun by cheap labour once it opens up to new members in eastern Europe.

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