2007 enlargement of the European Union
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The 2007 enlargement of the European Union saw Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007. It was the expansion of the EU considered by the European Commission as part of the same wave (the fifth) as the 2004 enlargement.
Romania was the first country of post-communist Europe to have official relations with the European Community. In 1974, a treaty included Romania in the Community's Generalized System of Preferences. Since the Romanian Revolution of 1989, European Union (EU) membership has been the main goal of every Romanian Government and practically every political party in Romania. Romania signed its Europe Agreement in 1993, and submitted its official application for membership in the EU in 1995, the third of the post–communist European countries to do so after Hungary and Poland. Along with its official EU application, Romania submitted the “Snagov Declaration”, signed by all fourteen major political parties declaring their full support for EU membership.
During the 2000s, Romania implemented a number of reforms to prepare for EU accession, including the consolidation of its democratic systems, the institution of the rule of law, the acknowledgement of respect for human rights, the commitment to personal freedom of expression, and the implementation of a functioning free-market economy. The objective of joining the EU has also influenced Romania's regional relations. As a result, Romania has imposed visa regimes on a number of states, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey and Moldova.
Within the framework of integration meetings held between the EU member states and Bulgaria, an 'Association Committee' was held on 22 June 2004. It confirmed overall good progress for the preparation of accession; however, it highlighted the need for further reform of Bulgaria's judicial structures, particularly in its pre-trial phases, as well as the need for further efforts to fight against political corruption and organized crime, including human trafficking. There was also, according to the report, limited progress regarding the integration of the Roma community. The findings were reflected in the 2004 Regular Report.
The Brussels European Council of December 17 2004 confirmed the conclusion of accession negotiations with Bulgaria. The 26 September 2006 monitoring report of the European Commission confirmed the date once more, also announcing that Bulgaria and Romania would meet no direct restrictions, but progress in certain areas — reforms of the judicial system, elimination of corruption and the struggle against organized crime — would be strictly monitored.
With this accession, Cyrillic became the third official alphabet of the EU, after the Latin and Greek alphabets. Cyrillic will also be featured on the euro banknotes and the national (obverse) side of the Bulgarian euro coins. The ECB and the EU Commission insisted that Bulgaria change the official name of the currency from ЕВРО (EVRO) (as accepted) to ЕУРО (EURO), claiming that the currency should have a standard spelling and pronunciation across the EU. For details, see Linguistic issues concerning the euro. The issue was decisively resolved in favour of Bulgaria at the 2007 EU Summit in Lisbon, allowing Bulgaria to use the Cyrillic spelling евро on all official EU documents.
The date of accession, 1 January 2007, was set at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 and confirmed in Brussels on 18 June 2004. Bulgaria, Romania and the EU-25 signed the Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005 at Luxembourg's Neumuenster Abbey.
The 26 September 2006 monitoring report of the European Commission confirmed the entry date as 1 January 2007. The last instrument of ratification of the Treaty of Accession was deposited with the Italian government on 20 December 2006 thereby ensuring it came into force on 1 January 2007.
Some member states of the EU require Bulgarians and Romanians to acquire a permit to work, whilst members of all other member states do not require one. Currently, 17 member states allow Bulgarians and Romanians to work without a permit. Currently only 8 countries keep the restrictions, which include Germany, Austria, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Malta and United Kingdom. In addition, Spain keeps work restrictions only for Romanian citizens. Restrictions may remain in place until 1 January 2014 – 7 years after their accession.
While both countries were admitted, concerns about corruption and organised crime were still high. As a result, although they joined, they were subject to monitoring from the Commission through a Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (CVM) . It was initially set up for three years but has continued indefinitely and although it has highlighted the corruption and applied some pressure to continue reforms, it has not succeeded in forcing the two countries to complete reforms and corruption persists.
The accession treaty granted Bulgaria and Romania a seat, like every other state, on the Commission. Bulgaria nominated Meglena Kuneva, from NDSV who was given the post of Commissioner for Consumer Protection in the Barroso Commission, from 1 January 2007 until 31 October 2009. She was nominated in 2006 by the then current Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev. Romania nominated Leonard Orban, an independent, who was made Commissioner for Multilingualism in the Barroso Commission, from 1 January 2007 until 31 October 2009. He was nominated in 2006 by the previous Romanian Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu. Both were approved by Parliament to become Commissioners upon accession.
Upon accession Bulgaria's 18 and Romania's 35 observer MEPs became full voting representatives until each state held an election for the posts, which were mandated to happen before the end of the year. Bulgaria held its election on 20 May 2007 and Romania on 25 November 2007.
- Treaty of Accession 2005
- 6th European Parliament
- Enlargement of the European Union
- Future enlargement of the European Union
- Statistics relating to enlargement of the European Union
- 1995 enlargement of the European Union
- 2004 enlargement of the European Union
- Enlargement, 3 years after, Europa (web portal)
- Chronology of the Fifth EU Enlargement, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom
- Melanie H. Ram, Ph.D., Sub-regional Cooperation and European Integration: Romania’s Delicate Balance
- "Николай Василев ще брани в Брюксел изписването "евро" вместо "еуро"" (in Bulgarian). Mediapool.bg. 7 November 2006. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- "Bulgaria wins victory in "evro" battle". Reuters. 18 October 2007.
- "Evro" dispute over - Portuguese foreign minister | The Sofia Echo
- "4 EU nations ease work restrictions on new members". Associated Press. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-08.[dead link]
- See also: Freedom of movement for workers
- EU commission defends Romania-Bulgaria monitoring project EUObserver, March 2010; Bulgaria and Romania in trouble for a too fast EU integration. EuropaRussia, September 2010.
- EU Observer, 4 January 2011