2007 accession for Bulgaria and Romania – with probation

The Commission is to announce the 2007 accession of Bulgaria and Romania under tough conditions. Meanwhile, the Commission president has announced an ‘enlargement pause’.

The Commission is expected to announce, on 26 September 2006, that Bulgaria and Romania can join the EU in 2007. The final monitoring report by the Commission indicates tougher conditions on their entry. Both countries will be closely monitored on the remaining areas of concern, such as the justice system, the fight against corruption and agriculture.

If the requirements are not met, the Commission has the possibility to invoke safeguards for up to three years after accession. These measures could effect food-export bans and cuts to EU funds, as foreseen in the report.

The Accession Treaty, signed in April 2005, has been ratified by Bulgaria and Romania, as well as 21 member states so far. The two countries will join as of 1 January 2007, unless the Council decides to postpone their accession until 2008.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso indicated that there would be an enlargement pause. He said: “I do not think it would be wise to proceed with any enlargements before we have resolved the constitutional issue in Europe.”

This may raise doubts about promises to allow Turkey and the Western Balkans to join the EU soon. Nevertheless, Barroso conceded that he “would like Croatia to join as quickly as possible, if it fulfils all the criteria”.

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