Making headway on joining EU

  • 2001-12-06
  • Nick Coleman, RIGA
Latvia closed Nov. 28 three more chapters in talks on joining the European Union, bringing it closer to completing negotiations next year, the country's chief negotiator said.

"Everything is going according to schedule," Andris Kesteris said in a telephone interview from Brussels after Latvia closed chapters on the environment, financial control and competition policy.

Latvia has now closed 21 out of the 31 EU accession negotiation chapters.

Agreement was reached on transition periods within which Latvia must comply with some aspects of EU environment law after its accession, with the longest - 15 years - on meeting EU water quality standards.

"The member states shouldn't be concerned by these transition periods. They make our application for membership much more credible," said Kesteris.

Latvia opened EU membership negotiations last year along with five other countries, but has managed to catch up with the six countries that began talks in 1999.

In progress reports published earlier this month the European Commission said Latvia and nine other countries were on track to finish membership talks next year and join the EU in 2004.