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Sofia tightens discipline ahead of EU entry

Date: 10.11.2005

Bulgaria will strictly follow the work of its ministries ahead of the country's accession in the European Union (EU) planned for January 1, 2007.

Bulgaria's European Integration Council convened Tuesday to consider government action in areas of serious concern highlighted in the latest European Commission monitoring report on Bulgaria and the warning letter received Monday.

Euro-Integration Minister Meglena Kuneva commented following the session of the Council that the different ministries have to join efforts in their work. In her words the monitoring report and the warning letter have once again highlighted the main problem areas for Bulgaria - administrative capacity and judiciary.

The ministers will have to follow carefully the European Commission peer reviews launched into their sectors, Kuneva warned. In her words the problems in the monitoring reports stem from these peer reviews. Should we execute our tasks, the EU will have to execute its - accept Bulgaria for a EU member, Kuneva concluded.

The Euro-integration minister also warned that from now on the peer reviews will take place almost each week, saying that the difficult problem areas like judiciary, internal order and agriculture will be most likely reviewed in 2006.

The decision for the tightened control over the work of the ministries came after a day earlier Bulgaria received a warning letter from the EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn that urges it to address the main shortcomings.

The Commission gives Bulgaria and Romania six months to deal with shortcomings in the countries' preparations to join the EU. It will make its final recommendation on whether the two Balkan countries should join the EU in 2007 or 2008 only in the spring next year.

In its latest report, which was published on October 25, the EU evaluated the Bulgaria's state of preparedness for accession in 2007 on the basis of political and economic criteria for membership and the requirement to adopt and implement the EU legal order.

The European Commission singled out five areas of serious concern in the adoption and implementation of the EU legal order. Freedom to provide services, company law, agriculture, regional policy and justice and home affairs require immediate actions from Bulgaria in order to be ready for accession at the beginning of 2007, the report warned. The European Commission said organized crime and widespread corruption remain a cause for concern and affects many aspects of society.

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