EU

Barroso calls to wait with EU expansion

President of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso called for a while to suspend the expansion of the European Union after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.

According to Barroso, the EU will need to first carry out organizational reforms and decide on the adoption of a new constitution.

Statements by the President of the European Commission question the possibility of Croatia and Turkey joining the EU. Both of these countries began accession negotiations in 2005.

European Commission representatives are expected to announce Tuesday that Bulgaria and Romania will be able to join the EU on January 1, 2007. Now the EU includes 25 countries.

«This issue has not yet been finally resolved, but, in my opinion, it would be unreasonable to accept new members, except for Bulgaria and Romania, who should soon join the union, before we solve our internal problems,» Barroso told reporters in Brussels .
«I think it would be wrong to continue expanding the union before we resolve the issue of a new European constitution,» he added.

Barroso emphasized that the EU’s ability to absorb new members is not unlimited. The Union must adopt new rules that will enable it to work more efficiently in an expanded format.

However, according to the president of the European Commission, he would like to see «Croatia joining the EU as soon as possible if it satisfies all the requirements.»

Croatia looked forward to the possibility of completing EU accession negotiations by 2009.

However, Barroso did not say anything about other candidates for accession to the European Union — about Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In 2005, they received the official status of candidates for EU membership.

According to current regulations, the EU can have no more than 27 members. An increase in their number requires organizational reform.

Attempts to adopt a new European constitution were unsuccessful after Dutch and French voters rejected it in referenda.

Progress

As BBC correspondent Oana Lungescu reports from Brussels, the European Commission is likely to confirm on Tuesday that Bulgaria and Romania will be able to join the EU in January 2007, not 2008.

However, as indicated in the draft report, which our correspondent reviewed, both countries may be sanctioned if the reforms in them appear to the EU representatives too superficial.

The document says that in this case, Bulgaria and Romania may ban the export of food products and reduce subsidies from the European budget.

In addition, the EU will check the progress of legal system reforms and the situation with corruption in these countries. It is believed that they are subject to the most stringent requirements for joining the union.

It is not clear how the process of expanding the union can continue without adopting new rules.

Europe is jealously watching the enlargement of the EU, and, as our correspondent points out, many will interpret Barroso’s remarks as reluctance to accept new members.

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