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Monday, December 06, 2004
The European Commission has set itself on a collision course with the European Union's most powerful leaders by demanding that Romania meet tougher standards before it is admitted into the EU.
At a summit in June, EU leaders demanded that negotiations with Romania be concluded this year for scheduled entry in 2007. The governments of the EU's biggest states - Germany, France and the UK - believe it would be counterproductive to delay further before the ex-communist state is let into the fold.
But the Commission told member states this week that Romania had made insufficient commitments to reform its system of subsidies, particularly in the steel sector.
As a result, the Brussels body wants the formal talks to be put on hold while the Commission and Romania work on far-reaching reforms to the country's rules for state aid.
The issue is highly sensitive because the country, which is home to 21m people, will become the EU's seventh largest state, but even its government admits that it has enduring problems with corruption and authoritarianism.
But EU member states could still overrule the Commission in coming days and conclude negotiations this year, even though the outstanding area - competition - is one over which the Brussels body has considerable powers.
One possible compromise may be for the EU to conclude talks with Bucharest this year but make its signature of the final treaty admitting Romania conditional on further reforms in state aid.
Romania has also been criticised by non-government organisations for the conduct of parliamentary elections last Sunday, in which the ruling Social Democrats won most seats but lost their overall majority.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe gave the elections a relatively clean bill of health.
The OSCE mission to Romania of 18 international election experts contrasted with the 600 observers the organisation sent for the second round of Ukraine's presidential election.
Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 12/06/2004 10:05:00 am
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