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Membership of Romania and Bulgaria: one more effort, please

(Archives B2) After some hesitation, the European Commission finally decided yesterday (16 May) to give itself a little extra time to assess whether, in fact, Romania and Bulgaria can become full members of the European club . " They should enter the Union on January 1, 2007 on condition of resolving certain problems » assured in Strasbourg the President of the European Commission, José-Manuel Barroso. The Commission therefore intends to prepare a new and final report at the beginning of October.

Several areas of concern

Until then, the two contenders bordering the Black Sea will have to frankly address a whole series of questions. In its assessment, the Commission notes that six areas remain of concern in Bulgaria, notably the fight against corruption and mafias, the organization of the judicial system, the management of structural funds, food safety and the prevention of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ( mad cow disease). Four areas of concern for Romania Four areas remain to be improved: the fight against corruption, VAT collection, the fight against mad cow disease and the management of European agricultural funds.

Not perfection but a last ditch effort

“The progress we are asking of these countries is not unrealistic”, believes the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn. “ We do not ask them for total perfection but for a final effort. ". But this moderate optimism has not really convinced. This indecision even irritated several deputies, particularly the French, who were more in favor of the accession of Romania and Bulgaria.

The important thing: send a clear signal

« It's time to send a clear signal » commented Pierre Moscovici, rapporteur in the European Parliament on Romania's accession. For the former Minister of European Affairs under Lionel Jospin, “ the advances are sufficient to be able to enter ". Comment approved by Alain Lamassoure (UMP): “ I don't really see what can be done in three months when it comes to such painful reforms. We had to decide immediately whether it was 2008 or 2007, even if it meant putting in safeguard clauses. It will be very difficult, at the last moment, to postpone the accession date. »

A wolf's caution

The enlargement of Romania and Bulgaria is, in fact, scheduled for January 1, 2007, with the possibility for heads of state and government to defer this date for one year, based on a report from the Commission. As several MEPs noted, the Commission did not have this level of requirement during the previous enlargement. But is this the effect of the “No” votes in the referendums, especially in the Netherlands, or of the evolution of public opinions in Europe, the Commission has become extremely cautious with the candidate countries.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

completed version of an article published in Ouest-France, May 2006

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).