Merkel against further expansion of the EU

9th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 October 2006, BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday spoke against a rapid expansion of the European Union after Bulgaria and Romania join next year. "We have to realize that we cannot take any new members on board in the foreseeable future," the chancellor said in her weekly podcast, in which she outlined the goals of Germany's six-month presidency of the EU beginning in January. "Even membership negotiations with Turkey should be conducted in an open-ended fashion," she said, adding that

9 October 2006

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday spoke against a rapid expansion of the European Union after Bulgaria and Romania join next year.

"We have to realize that we cannot take any new members on board in the foreseeable future," the chancellor said in her weekly podcast, in which she outlined the goals of Germany's six-month presidency of the EU beginning in January.

"Even membership negotiations with Turkey should be conducted in an open-ended fashion," she said, adding that Europe needed to state clearly where its borders were.

The chancellor, who has just returned from a visit to Turkey in which she discussed the issue of EU expansion, favours a loose form of associate membership for countries on the bloc's outer borders.

The EU Commission is due to release a report next month on whether Turkey has made progress in reforms to qualify for EU entry amid warnings that membership negotiations may be suspended unless Turkey opens full trade relations with Cyprus, which joined the EU along with nine other countries in 2004.

The EU last month gave the green light for Romania and Bulgaria to join on January 1, 2007, but warned of tough sanctions if the pace of reform in both countries slowed down.

Merkel said one of the goals of Germany's EU presidency would be to set out a timetable under which a European "constitution could become reality." The current draft has been on ice since it was rejected by French and Dutch voters last year.

DPA

Subject: German news

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