Nothing is decided yet
In its allocated time, the European Commission has failed to come to a conclusion on whether to allow Romania and Bulgaria to enter on 1 January 2007 or delay entry until 2008.
In its allocated time, the European Union has failed to come to a conclusion on whether to allow Romania and Bulgaria to enter on 1 January 2007 or delay entry until 2008.
Instead the European Commission will review the situation by October.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said Romania needs to “demonstrate further results” in the fight against corruption, investigations into graft and implementation of judicial reform.
Following Communism, the Romanian judiciary has not convicted any high level business or political figures accused of corruption.
Romania must also accelerate reform in the fields of agriculture, food safety, the veterinarian sector and the management of EU funds.
“It is doable,” Barroso added.
The European Commission was meant to come to a decision this month as to whether or not to allow Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union in 2007 or to delay accession until 2008.
Instead it has come to a compromise by commissioning a further review on the fitness of the two countries for entry into the EU no later than October 2006.
EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said unless the two Governments “take immediate and corrective action” on the issues of concern, they risk entering in 2008.
He added that more results have to come from both Romania and Bulgaria in showing these nations can protect the rights of their minorities.
Following the large scale enlargement wave of ten member states in 2004, Rehn said that the monitoring process of Romania and Bulgaria has been “unprecedented in its scope and intensity”.
Head of the European Commission Delegation to Romania, Jonathan Scheele, said Romania should be prepared for membership in 2007 providing it addresses a number of outstanding issues. He also added that Romania needs to work on collecting taxes from its citizens and work more closely with the tax authorities from the other member states.
“The last lap is always the most difficult,” he added.
The Delegation of the European Commission will now sit down with the Government of Romania and go through the monitoring report to establish a list of priority areas and actions.
“A 'to do' list,” said Scheele.
In the most sensitive area, justice and home affairs, Scheele said the Government had some outstanding legislative issues to complete, such as the draft law on the financing of political parties and in clarifying wealth declarations of the political class.
“We need to reduce the potential and opportunity for corruption,” he added.
In the economic sphere, Olli Rehn was full of praise.
He said both Romania and Bulgaria have shown remarkable success, robust growth and economic dynamism.
Divisions in the European Parliament, who were consulted on the issue, were within the European People’s Party (EPP-ED), the largest political group, and for accession in 2007 from the Liberals and a major part of the left, while against this date from the Green party.
Chairman of the EPP-ED group Hans Gert Poettering said the Parliament’s decision was “wise and judicious”.
While Graham Watson, leader of the liberal (ALDE) group in the European Parliament struck a more positive note for the two countries, saying the commission should not review the decision unless in the “gravest” of circumstances.
However he said that ill treatment of the Rroma continues to offend.
One of the most vocal critics of accession, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the Green/EFA party in the parliament added: “We knew last year when we made this decision that they were no ready.”
Former EU rapporteur for Romania Emma Nicholson was positive about the accession date of 1 January 2007.
“I am confident,” she said. “I have already bought my ticket for Bucharest on 31 December.”
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