Bulgaria and Romania have become full members of the EU, whose membership now stands at 27. After seven years of preparation, their accession marks the completion of the sixth EU enlargement.
The entry of Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007 marks an historic achievement, with the EU welcoming 30 million new citizens. "This enlargement has consolidated peace and brought more prosperity to Europe. This is the right decision for Bulgaria and for Romania, and this is the right decision for Europe," declared Commission president José Manuel Barroso in September.
Despite far-reaching reforms which lasted until they joined, Bulgaria and Romania still have some way to go in tackling organised crime and corruption, adapting their legal systems and guaranteeing food safety. To ensure this work continues beyond accession, the Commission has put forward a package of transitional measures to prevent or remedy any persistent shortcomings and ensure the smooth integration of both countries.
The message is that EU membership isn't an end in itself for the two countries. While decisive, joining the EU is only one stage in a process of integration based on European values, which began 15 years ago.
The two new commissioners, Romania's Leonard Orban (handling multilingualism) and Bulgaria's Meglena Kuneva (consumer protection) will serve until the end of the present Commission's term of office - 31 October 2009.
· EU Enlargement: Romania - 2006
· EU Enlargement: Bulgaria - 2006
· Final monitoring report on Bulgaria and Romania.