KRAKOW (B)--Polish and other Central European farmers and their European Union counterparts have agreed that plans to enlarge the EU are "the best cure to fight the plague of globalization." Speaking at the European Agriculture Congress, which opened Sept. 25, the two parties called for the speedy accession of Central and Eastern Europe countries to the EU and for "equal treatment," though there was disagreement over what this meant. Poland is aiming to join the EU in early 2003.

"Globalization is not a choice, but a fact. It means that competition is increasing. But the new, enlarged EU will become a major player, able to match the United States in its potential," Hans Jonsson, President of the European Agriculture Confederation (CEA), said at the Congress.

He said he saw a united Europe as "a realistic possibility."

"Globalization is a fact. But some people in Poland say it is like a modern plague. And the best cure for this plague would be to expand the EU to list more than 15 countries," Roman Wierzbicki, head of the Solidarity of Individual Farmers trade union, said.

However, Wierzbicki said it seemed the EU was "too strictly sticking to its rules and regulations," not allowing Poland and other candidates to harmonize with EU standards step by step.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, also present, noted that "all EU members also found it difficult to modernize their agricultural sectors once."

According to Alfred Domagalski of Poland's National Cooperative Council (KRS), a nine-hectare large farm in Poland receives 29 euros in direct state subsidies, while an EU farm of the same size is entitled to 8,400 euros.

Poland wants to be eligible for subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as soon as it becomes an EU member state, while European european farmers admitted there were fears among them that "some day less money than we have today will have to be shared by 27 member states instead of the current 15."

"There cannot be two CAPs. So we have to ponder on how to build a bridge for Polish agriculture, helping it to enter the EU system in such a way that we all could lose as little as possible," EU Agricultural Commissioner Franz Fischler, also present, concluded.

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