Research managers and government officials from Central and Eastern European countries presented their countries' scientific and research potential to the EU research community at the "New Partners, New Opportunities" conference in Brussels on 14-15 December 1998. The conference's aim was to increase awareness of new possibilities unfolding through the opening of the Fifth Framework Programme to candidate countries. All the 11 countries which are candidates for membership of an enlarged EU have requested full association to the Framework programme. Around 350 participants had registered for the conference, nearly half coming from candidate countries. The conference confirmed that candidate countries are determined to push forward on restructuring their financial systems for membership in the EU. They see cooperating in EU research projects as an associate as a first step to integrating into the Union. The pull of participating in the Fifth Framework Programme will stimulate the national transitions necessary in finance and research. Poland made clear the important role it attaches to science and research as factors contributing to economic growth. Administrators from the Commission attending the conference made clear that the management for the Fifth Framework Programme was fully aware of the new partners. Special efforts are being undertaken under the current Austrian and incoming German Presidencies to make sure there will be no undue obstacles to cooperation. Six countries - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovenia - have already begun negotiations for full association to the Fifth Framework Programme. These countries will benefit from special financial arrangements and participate as observers on the committees which manage the specific programmes in the Fifth Framework Programme. Four countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia and Slovenia, would also like to participate under the EURATOM Treaty. Both sides are aiming to complete the formalities of gaining approval for the participation of the new countries, both in their own legislature and in the EU, before the start of the first evaluations of proposals in the Fifth Framework Programme. Countries applying for membership of the European Union include Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.