Top EU and Romanian officials have reacted with trust and caution to the European Commission report on Tuesday that confirmed January 1, 2007 as the date Romania and Bulgaria will join the EU.

In its last such report, the Commission took into consideration the progress registered by the two countries and said it trusted they’d be ready to assume all the rights and obligations of member states at the beginning of next year. But it also proposed a set of measures to push Romania and Bulgaria into further reform in key areas.

EC President Jose Manuel Barroso

The head of the European Commission voiced Brussels’ determination to implement a mechanism to check further progress in the two countries, eyeing the process of reform in the fields of justice, fight against corruption and organized crime. “EU rules provide a set of complex measures to allow the evaluation of risks”, he said.

And he said the EU looks forward to the historical accomplishment of Romania and Bulgaria becoming members of the Union in 2007, energetically contributing to the process of EU integration.

Barroso also said in a press conference that he thought the ratification process of the EU accession treaty with the two countries would continue smoothly without any difficulties.


Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn

For his part, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said Romania made remarkable progress in fighting corruption and solving issues related to the illegal funding of political parties. But he insisted that further efforts were needed for the reform of justice and fighting corruption.

He said Romania and Bulgaria must submit bi-annual reports on the progress they made in key areas and in case they fail to move forward the EC might call for a reduction of the funds allocated to support their economic improvement.

But he said he was trusted the two countries would enrich the European Union without compromising it.


Hans Gert Poettering (EPP-ED)

In the first intervention after the EC report was presented, the head of the Popular group in the European parliament said EPP-ED welcomed the Commission decision. It was not just a decision that the group expected and hoped for, but it was also a “historical milestone” for the two countries, Poettering said.


Martin Schulz (PSE)

Socialist group leader Martin Schulz was also optimistic. He said the construction of Europe moved further with the accession of the two countries and considered that with each country that joins the European market gets richer.


Graham Watson (ALDE)

The Liberal group leader opened his presentation in Romanian: "Unde-s doi puterea creste" (Two make for more strength), he said, welcoming the joint EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria.

He welcomed the efforts of the two EU Integration ministers of Romania and Bulgaria, Anca Boagiu and Meglena Kuneva respectively, who he said fought to bring the two countries to the surface.


Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Verzii/European Free Alliance)

One of the few negative reactions came to the Greens leader Cohn-Bendit, who while welcoming the accession of the two counbtries accused the debates in the EP as some of the “most hypocrite so far”. Whatever happens, he said, the EP has no word to say in the decision-making process.


What Romanian officials say


Traian Basescu

President Basescu welcomed the EC announcement and called it “a moment of celebration” as “Romania went through an impressive process of reform. Romania and the Romanians must be congratulated for the success of their efforts” for accession, he said.

But he said the accession target was reached in an “acceptable manner” taking into consideration that there were lots of key fields of activity where Romania is far from perfect.


Calin Popescu Tariceanu (PNL)

The Romanian prime-minister said “Romanians have a reason of national pride today... We join the European Union in the exact conditions of the ten countries that joined in 2004, without saveguarding clauses”, he pointed out.

And he said Romania enters a period of certain facts: in less than 100 days Romanian will be european citizens just like the French, the Germans, and the British, with the same rights and the same obligations.


Titus Corlatean (PSD)

The representative of the main opposition party in Romania, the Social Democrats, said it was a “historical day for Romania and for Romanians”, but predicted sectorial clauses would be applied in important fields of activity within the coming months, especially the agriculture.