Brussels has agreed to open trade talks with Euro-Mediterranean countries in a move likely to result in the further opening up of the European Union to imports of fresh produce.
Agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said the aim of the negotiations was to achieve “wide-ranging trade liberalisation” by 2010, with agreement to be reached by 2007.
She added: “Of course, we must proceed gradually and take account of the genuine sensitivities surrounding certain products.”
The EU’s Euro-Med partners include Israel, Turkey and a number of North African and Arab states.