Final Word from Wednesday, April 10, 2002

EU Ambassador Ramiro Cibrián gave a very upbeat assessment yesterday of the CR's progress toward accession. Speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce, he said the only serious issue left is steel restructuring. He added, though, that the EU wants the CR to amend its trade treaty with the U.S. before accession. Cibrián said he doesn't expect steel restructuring, the U.S. treaty, the Beneš Decrees, farm subsidies, cabotage or other issues to delay the process of accepting the Czechs into the EU in 2004. His enthusiastic comments came two days before Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen was to visit Prague and seem to signal that Brussels is shifting its strategy. Instead of stressing the need to make various changes before the Czechs can join the EU club, the EU now seems to be courting Czech voters. They will have the final say on accession.


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