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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 15:17 GMT
Czech farmers protest against EU deal
Czech farmers' protest
Farmers rallied in Prague on Wednesday

Just hours ahead of the European Union summit in Copenhagen, Czech farmers have blockaded three of the country's border posts, in protest at the conditions they will get when their country joins the EU.

Tractors, lorries and cars were used to close two crossing points with Austria and one with Germany.

The Beskidy Maly mountains in Poland
Farmers in Poland are set to get more financial aid than the Czechs
One banner in particular made their point clear, asking: "Is the liquidation of Czech agriculture the price of joining Europe?"

The protests follow a debate in the Czech parliament on Wednesday, after it emerged that Czechs will be receiving the least financial assistance of all the new member states.

The ideal of reuniting Europe has been largely overshadowed among Czechs by the feeling that they are getting a raw deal.

Tense negotiations

Farming has been the focus of intense last-minute bargaining by the Czech delegation in Brussels this week, with stories about beef and milk quotas dominating the headlines.

During Wednesday's stormy parliamentary debate, eurosceptic opposition parties attacked the government for getting a poor deal on EU entry.

Czech papers have also been full of reports about the lack of financial aid.

The Czechs are slated to get 70 euros per head, compared to a 166 euros for Poles or 134 for Hungarians.

This is partly because the Czech Republic will be completely surrounded by member states, and therefore needs no funds for costly security measures on the EU's external borders.

The president, Vaclav Havel, has sought to stress the historic significance of Europe reunifying.

But it is the detail of the negotiations that is grabbing the Czechs' attention.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Janet Barrie
"Money shouldn't spoilt this huge project"
Chris Patten, european commissioner
"The word historic isn't being overdone on this occasion"
Turkey's economic minister Ali Babajan
"Turkey has very optimistic expectations"

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12 Dec 02 | Europe
03 Dec 02 | Business
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