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Romania - Bulgaria's Stumbling Block on the EU Road

Date: 18.09.2006

There's a proverb dating back to long time ago: "Don't count chickens before they are hatched." Only 115 days before Bulgaria's EU accession when things seemed to be going smoothly, Brussels broke the news that January 1, 2007 - the targeted date of Bulgaria's EU accession - was not the final one. And they wouldn't concretize it in EC's report due September 26, but at the Brussels summit on December 14.

And the news was not announced by some EU hardliner, but European Enlargement Commissioner Geoffrey van Orden. A man worthy of commend for his well-intentioned attitude to Bulgaria. What happened in the last few days which radically changed EU members' mind?

What happened is that Great Britain started seriously speaking of labor market restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians after the two countries become EU members. In return, Romanian President Traian Basesku warned that he would introduce reciprocal measures for Britons.

Head of the Romanian opposition Mircea Geoana said that in case London introduced the planned restrictions he would bring Tony Blair to court. Geoana is Blair's fellow-partyman in the party of European Socialists.

This is not the way one can talk to the EU: it's neither bon ton behaviour nor is it a productive approach.

What followed is that another Britisher explained to us, not the Romanians, that the problem about the final date of Bulgaria's and Romania's EU accession hadn't been solved yet. It's true - a single vote suffices to hamper our country's EU entry. And the paradox is that this could be Britain - a country that has always supported us so far.

We must accentuate that Bulgaria has always kept the bon ton when it comes to London. The truth is that it's Britain's right to introduce such restrictions and the Bulgarians, as well as the Romanians, have agreed  to accept these conditions by signing the accession treaty, which is the same for both Balkan candidate countries.

By punishing Romania the EU will punish Bulgaria and we can't apologize on behalf of Romania.

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