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Branwen Jeffreys reports from Poland on its hopes for the EU
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Jacek Sarjusz-Wolski, Committee for European Integration
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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 16:09 GMT
Poles apart
The tractor is the only evidence of mechanisation
By the World at One's Branwen Jeffreys

From Andrei Vidomski's farm a patchwork landscape stretches east towards the Ukraine. The many coloured fields are the history of farming in this area, unchanged for generations, each farm just a few hectares of land.

With his 74 year old mother, Andrei Vidomski works hard to sustain a farm he can't afford to modernise. They have two cows, some pigs and chickens. The tractor is the only evidence of mechanisation, and over tea he tells me they survive partly through barter.

Little hope for the future

As he shows me around the farm I ask what he thinks will happen to farms like his when Poland joins the European Union. Looking out across the fields he tells me that maybe only ten percent of farms like his will survive.

Andrei Vidomski fears for the future

Joining the EU will bring some help for farmers in the form of subsidy, but those most likely to be able to benefit will be larger farms. The farmers with small holdings in the east of Poland fear they will gain little.

Ambitious for the future

Some are already ambitious for the future. Ariusz Bober is the energetic young president of a growing company. Ten years ago it was a bicycle shop in the town centre of Przasnysz, about 80 km north of Warsaw. Now the Kross company has a hi tech factory and is targeting markets like the UK inside the EU.

Ariusz Bober is typical of a new breed of entrepreneur, studying for an MBA and keenly aware of the wider market. He knows not all Poles will be as well placed to benefit. It will be an opportunity for the well educated, and clever he says.

Poland tired of waiting

Polish minister
Jacek Sarjusz-Wolski: Desire to join remains high
The man responsible for preparing Poland for EU membership is Jacek Sarjusz-Wolski, head of the government Committee for European Integration. Although support for joining remains high, it has fallen in recent years.

There is a waiting fatigue in Polish society, says Mr Sarjusz- Wolski, because there was a common expectation of membership by the year 2000. Without a target date he adds, it will become harder to mobilise support.

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