Preparing for Accession to the EU: Transition Policies for Transition Economies
All or most of the Central and East European Countries (CEECs), including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, are waiting for, and are at various stages of preparing for, integration with the European Union (EU). It is no longer a question of whether this will occur, but rather a question of when and how. Today, it is clear that in its enlargement strategy, the EU is likely to treat the associated countries as one or more regional blocks and strongly encourage closer cooperation within and among these regions prior to accession. Agriculture is only one of numerous sectors that have to deal with integration issues and processes, and in many cases it may not be the most important concern of policy makers preparing for integration. However, agriculture is generally the most protected sector in the CEECs and the EU alike, so integration of agricultural markets and policies is a sensitive issue on both sides of the current EU border. After reviewing several key considerations countries must face in preparing for accession, we contrast the policy approaches taken by Lithuania and Hungary. Hungary had an earlier start in the transition process, has taken a more market-oriented approach to domestic support programs, and has relied more heavily on border measures to protect domestic markets.