ALMOST all eastern European countries applying to join the EU have asked for special transitional periods averaging three years to raise health standards at some of their food processing plants to meet EU regulations. Products from plants where improvements are still being made will not be able to circulate the EU. Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia may join in 2004, along with Cyprus and Malta. Estonia and Cyprus recently withdrew bids for transitional periods.

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