Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 10:47:03 AM EST
The BBC reports:
EU approves Bulgaria and Romania
The European Commission has announced that Romania and Bulgaria will be admitted to the EU in January 2007, but under strict conditions.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said both countries had made enough progress to join the union.
But they will be checked for progress in curbing organised crime and corruption, and ensuring food safety and the proper use of EU funds.
Bulgaria's PM said the move was the fall of the Berlin Wall for his nation.
The conditions are tougher than those imposed on previous new members, observers say.
Conditions such as:
Both countries will have to report every six months on progress in fighting corruption.
By March, they also need to set up agencies to handle millions of euros worth of EU farm aid, or risk losing a quarter of the cash.
Both will face food export bans due to outbreaks of animal diseases like swine fever, while Bulgarian planes could be banned from flying into EU airspace until the country improves its air safety standards.
There could also be restrictions on migration to other EU countries for up to three years.
Read Gradinski Chai's earlier diary on the conditional acceptance of Bulgaria into the EU.
The Official Report of the EU Commission on Bulgaria and Romania. (pdf)
Now, about Switzerland...
[Addendum by Colman:]
The EU's rules are currently covered by the Nice treaty, which sets a cap on the number of members at 27. This will be reached in January. Croatia, which is next in line to join, will now have to wait until the EU decides what to do with its constitution.(Guardian)
As will Turkey. Looks like the Guardian writer forget them - only Croatia and Turkey are in formal talks.