Romanians should worry less and work more if they want to join the EU in January 2007, European officials have warned. And so they do, according to newspapers today: fighting bird flu across the country, “killing” companies with high taxation or dealing with controversial GM soy crops.

“Romania, go to work!” That’s the main message received by Evenimentul Zilei from a series of political statements by EU officials in Bucharest yesterday, a day after the European Commission presented its last monitoring report on Romania and Bulgaria.

The newspaper quotes EC President Jose Manuel Durrao Barroso, who called on Romanian officials and public servants to pay one last effort to guarantee the country would join the Union next year.

And it lists the political priorities Romania should consider for the coming months – solving the issue of the status of minorities, the funding of political parties and the control of officials’ wealth.

Cotidianul, for its part, quotes Barroso’s statement that Romania should care less about others – i.e., Bulgaria – and concentrate on doing its own homework.

That comes despite even some EU officials such as the rapporteur of the European Parliament for Romania, Pierre Moscovici, have said they regretted the EC did not make a clear differentiation between Romania and Bulgaria in its May 16 report.

And the same daily publishes an interview with German Socialist Jo Leinen who says the poor mark for Bulgaria in the report has affected Romania’s position as well.

Things look a bit different for Gandul, which from official talks yesterday understood that the EU representatives suggested Romania had better stay away from a government reshuffle before October this year as the political stability and the reform of justice in Bucharest remain a priority for Brussels.

Gandul also quotes a Standard&Poor’s report that says its ratings for Romania and Bulgaria are not affected in any significant way by the exact date of the EU accession.

Meanwhile, Adevarul focuses on the renewed bird flu crisis in Romania, which according to the newspaper’s expert sources proves the strategy of the authorities in dealing with the H5 virus was wrongly conceived.

The paper says it holds documents showing the actions of the authorities were erroneous, which led to an almost uncontrollable outburst of the bird flu.

The same line is taken by Gandul, according to which the bird flu epidemic in the county of Brasov was the creation of sanitary-veterinary authorities.

It says the strategic program of the Romanian authorities against the bird flu virus has completely ignored farms of hundred of thousands of poultry while thinking small and focusing on private households.

Thinking small would also be a debatable question about Finance minister Sebastian Vladescu who, according to Cotidianul, should be blamed for executing 83% of Romanian firms with its taxation reform in the field of small and medium enterprises.

The newspaper says that starting January 1, 2007 when the tax on micro-firm profits will be eliminated the state will lose some 30 million euro from its budgetary income, as the Finance Ministry has not even considered an impact study for its plans in this regard.

The situation of Romanian firms is also discussed in the economic weekly Capital, with a report that only a small part of the total number of companies registered in Romania operate activities as most are kept alive artificially, for their owners to receive salaries by dodging taxation or for speculative businesses.

According to official data quoted by Capital, somewhere between 342,000 and 404,000 companies of a total of about 500,000 have submitted their accounting balances for 2002.

Shady businesses are also discussed in today’s newspapers, stage lights focused this time on the leader of the Conservative Party (PC), a junior member of the governing coalition.

According to a Greenpeace report quoted by Evenimentul Zilei and Cotidianul, PC leader Dan Voiculescu and a senator are in breach of a governmental ordinance banning genetically modified crops in certain conditions.

Greenpeace claims it verified that one of Voiculescu’s companies, Grivco, controls GM soy crops in the area of Comana, south of Bucharest, reputed for its biodiversity. Authorities have announced they would check the claims and would announce their findings today.