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Monday, November 15, 2004
Business in Romania blog
European Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen last week said Romania might complete accession talks with the European Union on November 24, a few days before the general elections.

The EU ambassador to Bucharest, Jonathan Scheele, in an interview for the BBC was more reserved regarding Romania's prospects of striking an early deal with the EU, but said Verheugen "has the political overview and the position to know best what is achievable."

Gunter Verheugen's statements a week ago and his optimistic outlook on Romania's ability to close negotiations with the EU before general elections were received with skepticism both in Romania and abroad.

On the opposition's claims that Verheugen was presenting the current administration with a gift in view of the looming elections, Scheele said, "we must not interpret too much certain declarations made in the midst of the campaign."

He said Verheugen was not making a political gift to anyone. On questions regarding the realism of such projections, Scheele said, "The realistic objective is to close the joining treaty with Romania and Bulgaria next spring. Romania must convince the European Union that is making great strides to continue reforms especially in the justice and internal affairs sector, and that these reforms are realistic."

He said reforms will not be completed by the end of November or December. "It is a process that will last for more years," he said.

Opposition leaders Traian Basescu and Calin Popescu Tariceanu last week said Verheugen had a personal interest in completing integration talks with Romania, and therefore negotiations were made hastily, to Romania's disadvantage.

Democrat and Liberal leaders said the EU accession was used for electoral purposes, and analysts, too, said Verheugen had an affinity for Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, whom he was helping win the election.

European officials were also taken aback by Verheugen's declaration.
Liberal Chris Davies, a member of the European Parliament, said Romania should only join the EU when it has met all accession criteria. "We do not agree with a deadline, whichever it is. Romania must join the European Union when prepared.

It is now impossible to believe it is prepared, as long as the Commission's report shows that in Romania corruption is endemic, justice lacks independence and the media is far from being free," said Davies.

His view is expressed by most of his party colleagues and by an increasing number of European officials, according to the BBC.

European Commissioner for Justice and Internal Affairs Antonio Vitorino is one of the most skeptical Europeans opposing Romania's hasty accession.

Vitorino will present the final negotiation position in the middle of the week, which only leaves the 25 governments in the Union a few days to reach an agreement over Romania's accession status before the general elections.

A diplomatic source inside the European Parliament said at least four countries oppose the hurried EU-Romania talks, including Hungary and Finland.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 11/15/2004 06:05:00 pm Scheele: Realistic goal is to end EU talks next spring
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