Today the Commission adopted its monitoring reports on Bulgaria's and Romania's preparedness for EU accession. In the light of its findings the Commission considers that Bulgaria and Romania should be prepared for EU membership on 1 January 2007, provided that they address a number of outstanding issues. The Commission presents a carefully calibrated approach that is aimed at ensuring the continuation of the reforms in both countries up to and beyond accession.
On 25 April 2005, Bulgaria and Romania signed the Treaty of Accession, which foresees their joining the EU on 1 January 2007. The Commission has presented Monitoring Reports on their preparedness in October 2005, in which a number of shortcomings were identified. The current reports review the progress since October 2005.
Presenting the reports President Barroso said: “Bulgaria and Romania have made clear progress since October last which we acknowledge. Both countries should be able to reach the finishing line on 1 January 2007. But in order to do, efforts must be intensified, especially in the reform of the judiciary and fight against corruption. I encourage the authorities in Bulgaria and Romania to take our recommendation as an incentive to finalise their preparations. The EU wants to honour its commitments. This requires respect for the accession criteria defined.”
Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn added: “An independent and effective justice system, fully prepared to fight corruption and organised crime is the foundation of every democratic society. It is also the guarantee for a successful membership in the EU, since the functioning of the Union is based on the respect of law.”
In this key area, since last October 2005 Bulgaria has adopted several laws to reform the justice system. It also has taken measures to fight corruption, which allowed investigations into high-level corruption cases to be launched.
Romania has taken significant steps in the reform of the judiciary. It has established solid structures for the fight against corruption and has launched investigations into a considerable number of high-level corruption cases.
Based on the findings of the reports the Commission considers that it should be possible for both Bulgaria and Romania to be prepared for EU membership on 1 January 2007, provided they address the following issues:
* Bulgaria needs to demonstrate clear evidence of results in the fight against corruption, in terms of investigations and judicial proceedings. It also needs to further reform the judiciary, in particular to reinforce its transparency, efficiency and impartiality.
* Romania needs to continue its efforts and demonstrate further results in the fight against corruption. It also needs to consolidate the implementation of the ongoing justice reform and further enhance the transparency, efficiency and impartiality of the judiciary.
In addition a number of issues identified by the Commission as giving cause for serious concern in the transposition of the EU laws and standards must be addressed. The number of such issues has significantly decreased since the October 2005 reports (from 16 to 6 in Bulgaria and from 14 to 4 in Romania).
The Commission will review the progress of the two countries no later than early October this year. On this basis, the Commission will consider whether the date of their accession to the EU in 2007 can be maintained. In the event of a 2007 accession this report will also specify any areas where safeguards or other remedial measures may be needed upon accession.
For further information see: MEMO/06/201