The two candidate countries are ready to join the club in 2007, but the Commission decided to put tough conditions on their entry.
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso are said to be in favour of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU in 2007. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev is on a visit to EU leaders this week.
The commission is likely to make use of special “safeguard measures” allowing the imposition of financial sanctions on the two countries after accession. Especially Bulgaria is under scrutiny by the commission for organised crime and corruption. A commission official told the Financial Times “we think the best way to achieve our aim is to work with them with the threat of these measures. It’s a better way to achieve results than by postponing until 2008.” Such financial sanctions could mean the suspension of regional aid worth billions of euros.
These developments are likely to stir up the discussion in the UK on restricting immigration for workers from Bulgaria and Romania. There are fears in Britain of mass immigration and organised crime from the two countries after accession.
The commission is to publish its final monitoring report on Bulgaria and Romania’s preparedness for EU accession in 2007 on 26 September.