Romania and Bulgaria should not lose pace in the reform process and should prove they have the necessary structures to continue their fight against organized crime and corruption in order to guarantee a normal economy and society prior to their EU accession.

The signal came from EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn on Wednesday, when he presented in the European Parliament his opinion on the progress of the two countries before they join the Union.

But Olli Rehn’s account on the two countries was interpreted by the BBC and other media as a sign of appreciation for the progress in Romania, but not in Bulgaria. He said, however, that his target was that Romania and Bulgaria join the EU next year and not later, as it might occur if a safeguard clause is invoked before the end of the year.

The European official welcomed the significant progress reported by Romania in the fields of Justice reform and the fight against corruption, as Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini had said the previous day.

But he warned Bulgaria there were still too few inquiries and sentences in organized crime and money laundering cases and that authorities in Sofia were rather reactive than proactive in this regard.

And he said once again that the final decision on the date and terms of Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the EU will be announced in Strasbourg on May 16 and not a day earlier.