Following its positive decision last May, the European Commission formally accepted the applications by Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union as of January 1, 2007. They will increase the number of EU member countries to 27, and will facilitate the business activities, including insurance, of other EU member countries.
The EC, however, imposed a number of further conditions on the two countries, while noting that they had “made far reaching efforts and addressed many of the challenges” incident to EU membership.
The areas that remain of concern involve progress in judicial reform, fighting against corruption and organized crime, as well as special conditions on agricultural market access and subsidies. The EC will oversee “a number of measures to accompany the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, ” and plans to establish “a mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress.”
Commenting on 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.”
The EU’s bulletin noted: “In fact, since May, the two countries have successfully addressed about half of the identified open areas. 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.”
Commissioner for enlargement, Olli Rehn added: “Our approach is fair and rigorous. It is fair because we recognized the progress that has been achieved and we gave credit where it is due. It is rigorous because we established the necessary mechanism to accompany Bulgaria and Romania on their reform path, in the interest of the two countries and of the EU as a whole.”
The bulletin concluded that “subject to the outstanding ratification processes in 4 EU Member States,” 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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