The Liberal-Democratic group in the European Parliament (ALDE) believes the May 16 country monitoring report of the European Commission will recommend Romania join the EU on January 1, 2007 and not later.

In a press release received sent to, ALDE leader Graham Watson says he trusts Romania would join next year as long as it continues to prove serious reforms, with real results.

According to Watson, the EC has a difficult task in facing expectations related to the European Union plans to expand.

On one hand, he says, the Commission knows that a negative May 16 recommendation would turn Romanians against the Union.

On the other hand, it knows the EU public opinion is worried about the possibility of another wave of enlargement and is expecting clear signals from Brussels that the evaluation of future members is done seriously.

A final analysis, in autumn, will clearly determine whether a sector-based safeguard clause should be introduced for those sectors where Romania still faces problems, Graham Watson said.