Romania was the first Central and Eastern European country to have established official relations with the European Community. The bilateral agreement on Romania's inclusion in the EC's Generalised System of Preferences dates back to 1974, and another Agreement on Industrial Products was signed in 1980.
Romania established diplomatic ties with the European Union in 1990, and the following year a Trade and Co-operation Agreement was also signed. In 1995, the bilateral Europe Agreement entered into force.
Romania submitted its formal application for membership of the EU on 22 June 1995. However, the decision on the application came only at the Luxembourg European Council in December 1997. The Romania-EU intergovernmental conference meeting in Brussels on 15 February 2000 marked the official start of membership negotiations.
At the Copenhagen Summit in December 2002, EU leaders set 2007 as the target date for Romania to join the Union. "The 2007 entry goal is a realistic scenario," said former Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen in June 2004. "Romania is in a decisive phase - it may be hard but it's possible."
In June 2004, the EU decided to set a new "safeguard clause" for Romania (and Bulgaria), which can delay accession by one year if the countries fail to meet their targets. Such delay would require a unanimous decision by the Council.
Meanwhile, in May 2004, Romania became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
On 17 December 2004, the Brussels Council took note of Romania's progress in its accession preparations and considered that the country "will be able to assume all the obligations of membership at the envisaged time of its accession", ie January 2007.
On 22 February 2005, the Commission passed a positive judgement on the scheduled April 2005 signing of Romania's Accession Treaty.
In April 2005, the European Parliament gave its overwhelming support to Romania's EU bid. The vote was 497-93, with 71 abstentions. The second such report was issued on 16 May 2006.
On 25 April 2005 Romania signed its EU Accession Treaty, and on 25 October 2005 the Commission published its monitoring report on the country's level of preparedness.
In its final monitoring report on 26 September 2006, the Commission gave its green light for Romanian accession in 2007, but insisted on further reforms. If the requirements are not met, the Commission can invoke safeguard measures, which could lead to the suspension of funds.