HE Van Ee: Netherlands May Ratify Bulgaria's EU Treaty Spring 2006

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | December 21, 2005, Wednesday // 00:00
HE Van Ee: Netherlands May Ratify Bulgaria's EU Treaty Spring 2006 Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia News Agency)

HE Willem van Ee was appointed the Netherlands' Ambassador to Bulgaria in 2005. Prior to his arrival in Sofia he served as Deputy Head of Mission of the Dutch Embassy in Rome (2001-2005). Private secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (1997-2001) and Senior policy advisor Strategic Policy Orientation Unit and Private Secretary to the Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1996-1998). During the 90s his work took him to Windhoek, Namibia (Charge d' Affairs in 1996), South Africa (European Election Observer in 1994) and Bucharest, Romania (Second Secretary, Netherlands Embassy 1990-1993).

Ambassador Willem van Ee answered questions of Sofia News Agency Editor-in-Chief Milena Hristova.

This is the fourth interview in a series that will present to Sofia News Agency readers the views of EU member states ambassadors on Bulgaria's EU prospects.

Q: Which were Bulgaria's achievements and failures in 2005 in its efforts to draw closer to EU accession?

A: The Bulgarian government has made much progress, especially in putting the legislative framework in place. In many areas of the acquis Bulgaria is well under way to meet the requirements. The EU Commission's monitoring report signals however serious shortcomings in a number of fields, such as administrative capacity, food safety, the fight against organised crime and corruption. A general criticism is that implementation in several fields, real life change is lagging behind. We are all hoping for tangible results in the coming months, particularly with regards to organised crime and corruption.

Q: What should Bulgaria do during the first half of next year to keep January 1, 2007 a feasible target date for EU accession?

A: Sufficient progress must be made in those areas of concern indicated by the EU Commission. The legislative framework must be completed, but even more important is the implementation of the new laws and regulations. Reforms in the judiciary, the fight against organised crime and corruption must lead to tangible results. If decisive steps are taken now and a result-oriented approach is adopted, including clear and measurable benchmarking, 1 January 2007 is still feasible as the date for Bulgaria's accession.

Q: At the beginning of November MP Maxime Verhagen, the CDA's leader in Parliament, called for delaying the ratification of Bulgaria and Romania's EU Accession Treaty. How do you expect the ratification process to develop?

A: Ratification of international treaties in The Netherlands is a lengthy and meticulous process, which takes on average one year. The ratification procedure concerning the treaty on Bulgaria's and Romania's EU Accession already started in April 2005 and is expected to be finalized in Spring 2006. The Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament has decided to have the debate on the treaty in the beginning of February 2006. After the approval by the Second Chamber, a debate on the treaty will follow in the First Chamber. Probably early Spring 2006. Naturally, the Dutch parliament has its own responsibilities and progress made in Bulgaria and Romania will help a positive outcome of the parliamentary debate on the treaty.

Q: Could a delay in the complete ratification of Bulgaria's EU accession treaty by all member states deal a blow to the country's accession in 2007?

A: Of course, a delay in ratification or non-ratification by member states will have serious consequences for Bulgaria's accession. However, let us not speculate. Bulgaria still has time to meet the requirements, although time is pressing. And also the EU member states still have sufficient time to ratify. Furthermore, the ratification should not be confused with the monitoring process. This process is Bulgaria's guide and if Bulgaria does not make sufficient progress the coming months, the safeguard clauses in the treaty may be invoked.

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