In the summer of 1997 several strategic decisions have been taken that have changed the style, subjects and co-ordinates of public discussion about the eastward enlargement of the EU. The NATO session of Madrid in July 1997 invited Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to join the alliance. A couple of days later the Commission published its 1200 page strong AGENDA, containing its opinion on the 11 applicant countries as well as its proposals for agricultural, structural and institutional reforms needed to deal with the problems of accession; it also covers issues of technical and financial assistance to be extended to facilitate new entries. The Luxembourg Council of November 1997 is to pass final decisions. The intergovernmental conference on the internal structure of the EU was also concluded by the Amsterdam Council in late April 1997. Accession talks are likely to start in early 1998 and may well be concluded in a period of 18 to 30 months, with ratification procedures concluding in 2002-2003. What used to be considered inconceivable just a couple of years ago, will have materialised before the conclusion of the new WTO round on international trade and services.