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Romania And Bulgaria To Join EU In 2007, Says EC

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

28 September 2006

The European Commission on Tuesday adopted its final monitoring report on the preparedness of Bulgaria and Romania for EU membership.

Based on the solid progress achieved, the Commission considers that both countries will be in a position to take on the rights and obligations of EU membership on January 1, 2007. To address the limited number of areas where further work will be necessary, the Commission has proposed a package of rigorous accompanying measures.

On 25 April 2005, Bulgaria and Romania signed the Treaty of Accession, which foresaw their joining the EU on 1 January 2007.

Commenting the Commission’s decision President José Manuel Barroso stated:

“I congratulate the people and the leaders of Bulgaria and Romania for this historic achievement. Our objective assessment demonstrates that the accession of these two countries, as scheduled, with the accompanying measures we propose, is a chance to complete the EU’s fifth enlargement. This enlargement has consolidated peace and brought more prosperity in Europe. This is the right decision for Bulgaria and for Romania and this is the right decision for Europe.”

Since May of this year, when the Commission last officially addressed the matter, it revealed that the two countries have successfully addressed about half of the identified open areas, observing that:

"Based on the current momentum, it is reasonable to expect that the majority of the remaining issues will be resolved during the months to come."

To avoid any potential risks, the Commission has determined a number of measures to accompany the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. The Commission will set up a mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress in the area of judicial reform, fighting against corruption and organised crime.

For the protection of the EU’s financial interests a special regulation has been adopted for agricultural spending.

Subject to the outstanding ratification processes in 4 EU Member States, on January 1, 2007, Bulgaria’s and Romania’s accession will bring 30 million people into the EU, thus completing the EU’s historic fifth round of enlargement and creating a Union of almost half a billion citizens.

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