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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Poland set for German persuasion
Warsaw
Poland is trying to speed up its entry into the EU
By Ray Furlong

The new Polish Prime Minister, Leszer Miller, is making his first foreign trip on Wednesday with a one-day visit to Germany.

Mr Miller has stated that one of the key priorities of his government will be speeding up talks on joining the European Union.

The process has been stalled over the last year, and this will be the main focus of his talks with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Germany is Poland's staunchest supporter in the EU enlargement process, but Mr Miller will still have a hard time winning the concessions he wants.

Leszer Miller
Prime Minister Leszer Miller will press for faster action
In interviews before coming to power, Mr Miller always stated that Germany would be Poland's closest foreign partner.

Mr Miller wants to speed up the negotiations on joining the European Union and he believes the Germans may help.

But there are some thorny problems, such as efforts by Germany to prevent people from new member states having the right to work elsewhere in the union for seven years after joining.

Free market demands

Mr Miller said this week that if the EU was a free market it also had to be a free market for workers.

He has new proposals, under which the seven-year transition period is reduced in exchange for Warsaw cutting the time it wants to prevent foreigners buying land in Poland from 18 years to 10 or 12.

But it is not clear how realistic this proposal is.

Gerhard Schroeder
Schroeder is not expected to give ground
Other candidates states' have already accepted the EU's position. Furthermore Mr Schroeder is unlikely to make concessions.

He faces elections next year and knows that voters are worried about a flood of cheap labour from the east putting them out of work. Poland has fallen behind other candidate states in the race for EU membership and Mr Miller has pledged to catch up.

He may soon find out that involves making unpleasant sacrifices on the conditions of entry.

See also:

18 Jul 00 | Europe
Poland presses for EU action
11 Apr 01 | Europe
Job blow for Central Europe
06 May 01 | Europe
EU row over enlargement
29 Apr 01 | Europe
German proposal for EU government
07 Dec 00 | Europe
Fears of a European superstate
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