European Commission approves the accession of Bulgaria and Romania

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has publically-approved the accession of candidate countries Bulgaria and Romania, which are set to join the EU on January 1, 2007. The approval comes after Bulgaria and Romania completed accession negotiations in June and December respectively, and the text for the Accession Treaty was completed earlier this month.

The next step before accession will be the approval of the Accession Treaty by the European Parliament on April 13, before the document is expected to be signed on April 25.

Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Enlargement, who is from Finland, said that the EC's approval marks a new stage in the relations between the EU and the two candidate countries, and gives a clear message that the Commission welcomes Bulgaria and Romania into the European family.

However, Rehn also said that the two countries have a lot left to be done until their accession in less than two years. The release states that, "The Commission will continue to carefully monitor whether the two countries respect their engagements and obligations until accession and will support the two with all the instruments at its disposal."

Another important mention was that of the safeguard clause, which means that if any of the two countries do not meet their reform fulfillments and there are serious problems with their progress respecting their obligations, the EU can postpone accession by one year, to 2008.

The Romanian prime minister, Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, responded to the approval by saying that, "The EC approval for the Accession Treaty confirms Romania is fulfilling its commitments and that the country is on schedule with the integration process."