The message from Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik is clear: "If Bulgaria wants to join the European Union on 1 January 2007, the remaining time must be used as productively as possible. In particular, it needs to make further efforts in the fight against organised crime and corruption and in reform of the justice system." Plassnik spoke after meeting Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev on 27 April.
According to the Financial Times EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn is equally worried, and is even considering to delay the final assessment of Sofia's membership bid until the autumn of 2006.
A report commissioned by Rehn delivered harsh words on Sofia's record on matters ranging from people trafficking and prostitution to counterfeiting.
Commissioner Rehn is set to deliver a progress report on Bulgaria and Romania on May 16. Both nations hope to join the EU by 2007.