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What the newspapers say: May 17, 2006

Miercuri, 17 mai 2006, 0:00

Romanian newspapers on Wednesday welcome the positive tone of the European Commission report presented before the EP yesterday, on the progress of Romania and Bulgaria towards EU accession. But one cannot hide the disappointment that the EU did not mention June 1, 2007 as a certain date for accession and opted to postpone a final decision for October this year.

Evenimentul Zilei quotes EC President Manuel Barroso who dismissed the possibility that the postponement of the long-awaited decision on the date of accession might affect the political stability in Bucharest.

But it also quotes Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who insisted on the need that the country continue the necessary reform, taking into account that the accession version most favored by Brussels was “conditionally 2007”.

Evenimentul Zilei points out that the Europeans do not generally agree with some MEPs who have called for breaking the tandem between Romania and Bulgaria, considering that Bulgaria is seen as considerably behind its northern neighbor in terms of fighting corruption and reforming the judicial system.

And it quotes a Romanian EU Integration Ministry official who says keeping the tandem is “in Romania’s national interest” because a postponement of the accession date for Bulgaria would involve supplementary spending at least for securing the common border between the two countries.

As Olli Rehn and Manuel Barroso were expected to have official talks with the Romanian authorities in Bucharest this morning, the same newspaper quotes PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu who said yesterday he would have been glad to hear a clear differentiation between Romania and Bulgaria in the presentation of the EC report.

Also quoted is Emil Boc, leader of the Democratic Party (a member of the governing coalition) who said yesterday only “a major gaffe” would lead to the postponement of the accession.

Meanwhile, Cotidianul notes the differences between Romania and Bulgaria, in the eyes of the European Commission, can only be spotted between the lines of the EC report as the whole image suggests both countries still have serious issues to solve urgently.

Still, the newspaper writes, while in the case of Romania the latest EC report keeps only four “red flags” – fields needing urgent reform – for Agriculture and Taxation, Bulgaria has six such “red flags”, including the fight against corruption and organized crime.

But the expectations that both countries will join the EU in 2007 are hard to cool down as Cotidianul also quotes sources of the European Commission who said “it will be 2007, but officials in Sofia and Bucharest will have to sweat a bit more over the summer”.

Still, the optimism of many is not shared by everybody in Romania. The same Cotidianul quotes the leaders of the opposition Social Democrats (PSD), who see the May 16 report as a European vote against the current government in Bucharest, as it should have included a certain date for accession – and it did not.

Adevarul opts to narrate the events at the European Parliament yesterday and chooses to fill in the blanks with a report on what was most interesting for the Romanian and Bulgarian delegation there.

One issue of particular interest was the discussion of some European politicians who had discussed the need to bring the nursery where MEPS keep their newborns closer to the EP headquarters – which led to a Romanian discussion about the opportunities for future Romanian MEPs who become pregnant.

And Gandul insists that while the EC report makes clear differences between Romania and Bulgaria, especially in the field of justice and home affairs, the presentations by Barroso and Rehn put the two countries together with no such differentiation.

That, for Gandul, means that the point of view of Germany and France, who want the two countries in simultaneously, preferably in 2007, has the upper hand in the debates of the Commission.

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