EU Accession Talks May Slip - Fitch
Fitch Ratings expects 10 countries to join the EU in the next wave of enlargement, but warns that the risk of a delay in concluding accession negotiations appears to have increased: talks may slip into the first half of 2003. If the timetable for talks does slip, the agency cautions that enlargement may not take place as expected in January 2004. Nonetheless, given the momentum behind the process, Fitch expects any delay to be temporary and that enlargement will still occur during 2004-2005. The 10 countries set to join are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Fitch has identified the costs and benefits of membership relevant to the ratings of those countries acceding. It has concluded that joining the EU will have major financial benefits including increased transfers and access to balance of payments support, although net transfers could be lower than expected in the early years.