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EU supports closing of accession talks with Bulgaria, Romania next year

The EU Council in Thessaloniki and the following concluding statements in Porto Carras supported the ambition of Bulgaria and Romania to close the EU accession talks next year and to join the Union as of the beginning of 2007.

The EU commitment is defined as a non-binding joint goal with the two candidates but is nevertheless a very strong message, as it will allow talks on the financial chapters without links to the next budget of the EU. The EU leaders also confirmed that Bulgaria and Romania would be able to close the accession procedures without ratification from the new ten members.

The Bulgarian foreign ministry commented the summit conclusions as a best-case scenario giving the country a date for closing the accession process. The country should also show significant progress in the administrative and judicial reforms in order to close all accession chapters.

The regular report of the EC in the fall this year would play a decisive role, as it should recognise the Bulgarian capacity to meet the short-term and medium-term competitive pressure from the EU. Judicial reforms are expected to be the major criterion in the report.

(IntelliNews 23.vi.03)

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