Written Answers. - EU Enlargement.

Question:

28 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the talks on EU enlargement. [8245/98]

The Luxembourg European Council took the necessary decisions to launch the overall enlargement process and set in motion an inclusive process leading to accession by all the new democracies that have applied to join us. While the accession process will involve all ten central and eastern European countries, the European Council accepted also the Commission's recommendation for the opening of accession negotiations with the five most advanced of the central and eastern European countries and Cyprus in the first instance.

The accession process involving the 15 member states, the ten central and eastern European countries, and Cyprus was launched on Monday, 30 March, in Brussels. Intergovernmental conferences to begin negotiations with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia on the conditions for their entry into the Union and the ensuing treaty adjustments were inaugurated yesterday. At the same time as the Union is conducting accession negotiations with the five most advanced central and eastern European countries and Cyprus, the preparation for negotiations with Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, and Bulgaria is being speeded up in particular through an analytical examination of the Unionacquis.