House of the People BucharestIt looks like Romania and Bulgaria are still not going to get a final yes or no to 2007 accession to the EU in the Commission report due to be released today – see this from EUObserver. There are apparently enduring concerns that need to be addressed, so both countries will get conditional yes answers for 2007. The main concern has been enduring corruption in Bulgaria, with a number of lesser concerns about Romania.

However when casting an eye over Transparency International’s 2005 corruption index Bulgaria is in 55th place on the scale, and Poland is in 70th position! Further, the European Commissioner who – when reading between the lines of the EUObserver article – seems to be most opposed to agreeing a 2007 date is Franco Frattini whose home country is that well known honest state, Italy, where it took 43 years to find a Mafia boss.

The EU should just draw a line under all of this and let Bulgaria and Romania into the EU in 2007, and then start the tough but necessary work to clean up corruption in the EU and especially within member states. Further, if the French and Dutch had not voted no to the European Constitution, I would very much doubt Romania and Bulgaria would be in the present predicament. So, EU, get your act together and let’s agree the accession!


  1. OK, I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, and I am certainly not an expert on the Bulgaria/Romania accession process. But shouldn’t we just pause a moment and ponder if there isn’t something to be said for setting some standards for democratic etc behaviour, and then sticking to them? I’m not quite sure what the difference is between what you are saying and just saying the only criterion for joining the EU is that a state wants to (and perhaps can claim some benefits to itself from doing so). I am certainly not anti-enlargement, but expecting the EU to function with members who in some cases are not capable of relatively basic democratic and administrative processes, is not unproblematic. And it does not, for example, help much either with the battle to get some existing member states following such principles too.

  2. I admit I may have overstated Rehn’s reluctance. But I definitely think you have overstated Frattini’s, though.

    Anyway, thanks for the great job you doing on this weblog. I follow it with much interest for some time.

  3. Hmmm. That’s not how I read it… Rehn has been one of the strongest backers of 2007 all along, and Frattini has been more sceptical. I read his words as trying to put a positive spin on what is happening while at the same time being caution. See this from EUBusiness for more.

  4. I completely agree with your that the Commission should make a clear and positive decision on Romania and Bulgaria.

    However, I think you misread the Justice & Home Affairs Commissioner Frattini’s stance on this issue. He actually is the firmest supporter of an earlier entry date for both countries. Actually the Enlargement Commissioner Rehn seems to be the more reluctant one on this issue.

    “EU Observer” about Frattini: (

    “Both Bulgaria and Romania are working very well in the right direction, that’s my opinion in my portfolio area,” the commissioner said.”

    “I prefer to [first] take a clear decision on accession and then decide perhaps in the autumn on possible monitoring measures,” he added.

  5. I think you are absolutely right. Two problems: first, the uncertainty is doing no one any good. And second, Romania and Bulgaria precisely need to be brought alongside the other states with which they originally started the whole process of negotiation, like Slovakia, which was everyone’s bugbear at one point, and given the same sorts of incentives to continue the process of transition.

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