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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: EU Enlargement  
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EDITIONS
EU Enlargement Friday, 8 May, 1998, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
The enlargement timetable
UK logo for EU presidency
The official flag for the UK presidency
No previous enlargement of the EU can compare with the planned enlargement to central and eastern Europe. The EU is planning to expand its population by a third, but its GDP by barely 5%. There are four dedicated enlargement meetingsin 1998.

March 12: The European Conference

On March 12, the heads of state of all 15 EU countries and the heads of state from all 11 applicant countries of central and eastern Europe and Cyprus met in London to launch the "pre-accession" process at the European Conference.

March 30: Foreign Affairs ministers meeting

At the end of March foreign ministers of the 15+11 begin the dialogue that will lead to eventual expansion of the European Union. Attention at this meeting will focus on the 'pre-accession agreements' of aid to the applicant countries to enable them to meet the standards required to join the European Union.

Each Central and Eastern European country has prepared or is preparing a list of measures that they consider they need to adopt in order to comply with EU membership requirements.

March 31: Negotiations with the 'fast track' countries

On March 31, negotiations begin with the six 'fast track' countries with which accession negotiations are expected to take the least time: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia and Cyprus.

Six sets of Intergovernmental Conferences (IGC) will be opened, one for each of the 'fast track' countries. These IGCs will consist of representatives of all 15 EU member states and one representative of the 'fast track' country concerned.

These negotiations will eventually lead to the 'fast track' countries becoming members of the European Union.

December 1998: Vienna Summit

The Vienna Summit in December will mark the end of the Austrian presidency and will also be a forum at which heads of state will re-assess the position of the applicant countries with which negotiations have not yet begun ('pre-ins' in the inclusive European Commission jargon).

The 'pre-ins' are Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia. A decision may be taken to begin accession negotiations in 1999 with one or more of these countries.

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