Membership Has Its Privileges
Joining the European Union comes at a price: The 10 nations that are poised to become members next year will have to spend up to $117 billion to meet the bloc’s 149 environmental regulations, according to E.U. Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. For the mostly poor, formerly communist nations in question, that amounts to between 2 and 3 percent of gross domestic product — money that will probably have to come from private investors and international lending institutions. Meeting the E.U. wastewater directive presents the heaviest financial burden; other costly measures include landfill regulations and incineration standards. The 10 countries due to join the bloc in 2004 are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Wallstrom’s advice to the environmental ministers from the candidate nations: start making friends with their finance ministers.