Press review: latest enlargement sparks debate

The international press offered different perspectives on the Commission’s decision to admit Bulgaria and Romania into the EU in 2007. EURACTIV presents a selection.

The Wall Street Journal criticises the EU for having double standards and argues: “Once a country has met the conditions it should be let in on equal terms, not put on unprecedented probation. Many current members flout EU diktats all the time without paying any price.” On the current discussion on “absorption capacity”, the paper warns that “without the incentives of EU membership Turkey today might not be a lively democracy with a thriving economy. No, around EU capitals, Europe’s most successful policy is in disrepute.”


Bulgaria in EU welcomes the conditions under which both countries join and the fact that safeguards are not directly applied. It also appreciates that the Commission admitted that accession conditions were more difficult than ever. “The confession made by Olli Rehn from the EP tribune is sensational news – it concerns the fact that the measures for monitoring and control of Bulgaria and Romania will be more strict than the ones imposed on the 10 members, which entered the Union on 1 May 2004.”


The Times has as its headline: “EU latest entrants given ultimatum over crime”. It describes how the two countries managed to enter the EU, despite all shortcomings. It notes: “A long list of urgent reforms to combat persistent corruption, money-laundering and human trafficking was demanded yesterday by the EU as the price of its green light for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania."


Le Figaro looks at the upcoming Commission reshuffle and the institutional effect of enlargement. It predicts that any reshuffle will only be "a minima". It comments: “Si d'un point de vue arithmétique, aucun «big bang» n'est à attendre, cette opération va nécessiter beaucoup de doigté. La désignation, fin 2004, de dix nouveaux commissaires issus des pays de l'Est avait conduit à un psychodrame institutionnel, dont Barroso souhaite éviter la réédition."


The Sueddeutsche Zeitung backs the European Commission's decision to tie Romania's and Bulgaria's accession at the beginning of next year to strict conditions relating to judicial reform, corruption and organised crime. "All democratically minded Bulgarians and Romanians, too, will welcome the fact that the ruling elites in their countries are being forced by the EU to build a democratic and transparent society," it says.

On 26 September 2006, the Commission decided to admit the two countries into the EU in 2007 under strict conditions, rather than to postpone accession until 2008. This has also raised the issue of further enlargements.

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