Stefan Fuele: Bulgaria, Romania Accession Questioned EU Credibility
Member states and candidate countries have grown tired of the pace of the enlargement process, above all, the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, which raised a lot of questions about the credibility of the process, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele told EurActiv Czech Republic in an exclusive interview.
Responding to a question about the enlargement process of the EU, Fuele said the following:
You are dealing with enlargement in the European Commission. What has changed in this area during last five years?
A lot of things. Both member states and candidate countries got tired by the slowly proceeding enlargement process. Above all, the last enlargement of Romania and Bulgaria brought a lot of questions about the credibility of the whole process. Because it was the first time that the EU decided to establish a special cooperation and verification mechanism on existing member states. The biggest challenge was to return the lost credibility to the enlargement process. It forces us to expand and tighten benchmarks. Candidate states should prove that the adopted legislation is working.
Before I started working in the European Commission, member states had just a few tools to influence, or even stop, the enlargement. Now they have more than 100 possibilities to do it. We do not want to slow down the process in any way. But every member state now has more possibilities to oversee good quality preparations of the candidate countries.
Another step forward is the economic integration of candidate countries. We prepared something similar to the European semester. We were focusing on growth and employment, only after the country became a member state in the past. Now we are engaging and helping them to make structural reforms, to bring them closer to the EU at the beginning of the process. The enlargement is not about ticking off boxes. It is a process of real change and transformation.
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