The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Thursday (26 June) issued a statement, regretting that comments by Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle in an interview with EURACTIV “cast a shadow” over the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU.
In an interview with EURACTIV Czech Republic, Füle said that Bulgaria and Romania’s EU accession in 2007 had put in question “the credibility” of the EU’s enlargement process.
Asked what changed in the field of enlargement since he took this portfolio almost five years ago, Füle replied:
“A lot of things. Both member states and candidate countries got tired by the slowly proceeding enlargement process. Above all, the last enlargement of Romania and Bulgaria brought a lot of questions about the credibility of the whole process. Because it was the first time that the EU decided to establish a special cooperation and verification mechanism on existing member states. The biggest challenge was to return the lost credibility to the enlargement process.”
The interview, originally conducted in Czech, was translated into English and submitted to review by Füle’s cabinet, which approved it.
When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007, shortcomings remained concerning judicial reform and the fight against corruption. In the case of Bulgaria, problems also remained regarding the fight against organised crime.
A Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was set up to assist both countries with judiciary matters after their EU accession. Seven years after their accession, the CVM is still in place and will continue under the next EU Commission.
For future enlargements, the Commission has decided not to make use of CVM any more. Croatia has joined the Union last year without such monitoring mechanism.
The spokesperson of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign affairs said in a statement that the Bulgarian Permanent Representative to the EU, Ambassador Dimitar Tzantchev, discussed the issue with Füle’s Chief of Cabinet, Simon Mordue.
According to information received by EURACTIV, Romania too has protested the comment made by Füle.