New airport, better roads, efficient and eco-friendly waste treatment projects and a generally improved infrastructure are all things European Union money has helped to fund in the Balearics, one of the wealthiest regions of Spain, but the river of EU funding could be about to dry up if plans to expand the European Union go ahead. The writing has been on the wall for the Balearics ever since Brussels started to discuss embracing new Eastern European states, most of which are in desperate need of extra funding - hence the attraction of joining the Union. But the Spanish government, which is fighting hard to protect its pot of gold, suffered another setback yesterday. Spain failed to dispel fears that Madrid's demand for continued access to generous European Union regional funds may delay the rich bloc's enlargement. Spain, one of the poorer EU countries, is worried that it will lose out financially after enlargement as the funds are diverted to new members, like Poland or the Czech Republic, which have a lower standard of living. Madrid is opposing a deal proposed by Germany to delay the free movement of workers from eastern Europe to put pressure on other states for a promise of future EU regional aid. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique sought to reassure his Polish hosts that Madrid was acting in the interest of the EU candidate countries and fully supported the bloc expanding eastwards as soon as possible. But Poland was unconvinced by Spain's argument that it was showing solidarity with Polish objections to any ban on its citizens travelling West to seek work.

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