Snow in BucharestAs has been widely trailed [see EUObserver here], the European Commission is today due to give the go-ahead for the EU membership of Romania and Bulgaria. It’s not all good news though; for Bulgaria there are still areas of concern such as the justice system, the fight against corruption and organised crime, and an inadequate system for absorbing CAP money. The problems with the CAP, and also food safety, apply to Romania. The Commission wants more urgent action in these areas.

Yet what about the case of the 10 states that joined in 2004? Were they all ready to absorb CAP money? I very much doubt it. Seems like the jitters caused by the rejection of the Constitution are very much at play here. And after all, the UK will not manage to spend all of its CAP money this year either (see this from Hansard (see Bill Wiggin question), and the BBC article).

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, Liam Byrne, the Home Office Minister, today confirmed that it is highly likely that the UK will impose freedom of movement restrictions on Romania and Bulgaria – more on that in a previous post here, and today’s Guardian story here.

All in all, that adds up to a very cold welcome for Romania and Bulgaria! Anyway, for what it’s worth, the author of this blog very much welcomes the 2 new EU member states!

5 Comments

  1. I don’t think there’s that much disagreement actually – it did just seem to me that you had linked CAP and corruption in your first comment.

    It’s also important not to forget the dynamics in the old EU-15 too – if freedom of movement had been assured for all the new 10 in 2004 to all of the EU-15, we might not be facing the tricky issues in the UK now…

    There are loads of dynamics here – far more than I could manage in a quick post earlier today!

  2. What is my argument? My argument is that there are several valid reasons (not just xenophobia) to be concerned about the accession of these countries. Stats can be spun any which way to make the EU look hypocritical (big deal), but in my book two wrongs don’t make a right, so that doesn’t wash. I am not against their accession in principle, but I think that more economic convergence is/was required (which is happening if you look at growth rates in these countries). Realpolitik means that accession will not lead to freedom of movement for citizens of these countries – which is a bit of a blow for them.

    Your arguments are not without some merit, I just don’t think they tell the whole story.

    NB – It was not part of my argument to link ability to receive CAP and corruption although I think they are likely to be correlated.

  3. Praguetory – I know little of the precise detail of what the countries can absorb – that’s why I am making reference to the concerns that the European Commission has raised. However I know enough about the EU and about CAP to know what challenges there are for all accession countries to face – I’ve been to plenty of these countries (inc. Romania) and I meet officials from these countries regularly in my work.

    Anyway, I think your argumentation is flawed. Ability to absorb CAP money and level of corruption are not very closely linked. The problem with CAP money is more that the government stuctures are not in place to be able to cope with the burdens of the administration of CAP, and this is a problem that impacts all the member states that joined in 2004, not just Romania and Bulgaria. At least 8 of the 10 states that joined in 2004 faced precisely the same problem, only the EU (maybe wrongly) kicked up less fuss then.

    As for corruption – yes it is a problem, and I think you could make a decent argument why Romania and Bulgaria should not be let in as a result. But having let Poland into the EU in 2004 (70th in the index) it’s hard for the EU to do that now. Plus having promised Romania and Bulgaria a 2007 date, it’s very damaging to pull the plug at such a late stage. Further, the possible benefits for the vast majority of the populations of these countries are massive – for me that outweighs the problems.

    Governments in both countries have to be serious about putting right their problems, but the EU has to pay far greater attention to the countries already inside the EU as well.

    I think all of this is rooted in the Constitution fall-out as the Commission (and the EU institutions in general) have suddenly woken up the fact that they need to be able to be responsible and accountable to public scrutiny. Unless they can manage to demonstrate that, support for the EU will continue to dwindle. Criticisms were rightly levelled at the institutions in terms of how the previous enlargement was handled and were just shrugged off. That can’t be done now. However Romania and Bulgaria were already too far along the road to accession by 2005, so they have had to deal with the stricter approach of the Commission although this has not – ultimately – derailed their accession. Hope that makes the Constitution point a bit clearer!

  4. What do you know about these countries readiness to receive CAP money? Yes, I’m being direct, but, if you’re going if make statements on this topic, back it up with facts. These countries are both SIGNIFICANTLY poorer than existing members of the EU (including the 2004 accession countries) and more corrupt. To illustrate this independent research places Romania 85th on the International Corruption Index just behind Rwanda and Lebanon who are tied in 83rd. Why do you portray objections as being rooted in the Constitution failure fall-out?

  5. Marcela

    Being born in Romania, even if I am already an EU citizen (Italian), I wish Romania and Bulgaria to be part of EU soon. I am really bored about the word “extracomunitario”….

    A closed club of the old EU countries will create more frustration among Romanians and Bulgarians, one more year will not change the whole problems of these countries.

    I’ll be online at 16:00:00 Commission communication – Accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
    Link Here

    I hope a good welcome too!

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