Bavarian PM urges caution on EU enlargement

21st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

21 March 2006, BERLIN - Further European Union enlargement must be decided on the basis of whether the 25-nation bloc is capable of absorbing new member states, Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber said Tuesday.

21 March 2006

BERLIN - Further European Union enlargement must be decided on the basis of whether the 25-nation bloc is capable of absorbing new member states, Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber said Tuesday.

"The decisive criterion must be the absorption capacity of the EU," said Stoiber in an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk radio.

Stoiber said with regard to countries like Turkey - which began EU membership talks last year - it would not be enough if Ankara simply met the Union's membership criteria.

"On the contrary, what must be decisive is whether the European Union has the capacity to take in (Turkey)," he said.

EU enlargement must be approved by both houses of the German parliament. The upper chamber, or Bundesrat, represents the country's 16 federal states (Laender) including Bavaria.

Aside from Turkey, the EU is also negotiating with Croatia over membership. Romania and Bulgaria have completed negotiations and are due to join the bloc in either 2007 or 2008 at the latest.

There are differences in the EU over admitting Western Balkans states. New members such as Slovenia strongly back admitting countries such as Serbia, but old members like France and The Netherlands are far more reserved on further expansion.

EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Salzburg earlier this month underlined that absorption capacity would play a bigger role in future enlargement decisions.

DPA

Subject: German news

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