Poland's new left-of-centre government has offered the European Union concessions in a number of key negotiating areas. Prime Minister Leszek Miller and his team hope through more accommodating positions on migration of workers and foreign ownership of farmland to catch up with the protracted EU accession talks. Under the former government of Buzek, Poland displayed little willingness for compromise.
Under former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, Warsaw had insisted on an eighteen-year "grace period" for the sale of farmland to foreigners. Under EU rules, all EU citizens should be able to purchase land in all EU countries. In most candidate countries, this is a hard nut to crack. In comparison with Western EU countries, farmland is considerably cheaper in former communist countries, where in many cases (though not in Poland) farming had been collectivised. There is widespread anxiety, notably in Poland and in Hungary, that land-hungry farmers from the West will massively move to the East and buy up the land at a fraction of the price they would have to pay at home.
There are concrete fears of a swarm of real-estate dealers moving in to snap up land deals for speculative purposes as soon as these countries join the EU.
Land Sale Ban Shortened
Fear of a German invasion is felt especially vividly in Poland's West and South -- land which had belonged to Germany right up to the end of the Second World War. For this reason the Polish government of Jerzy Buzek had insisted on an eighteen-year ban on land sales to foreigners. The new Miller government has now said it is willing to shorten this to twelve years. Analysts in Warsaw were saying over the past few days that the eighteen-year land sale ban would be appreciably reduced - but for reasons of political expediency,