FT: Instability Prompt, if EU Entry of Bulgaria Delayed

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | April 3, 2006, Monday // 00:00

The Black Sea region faces serious political instability if EU membership for Romania and Bulgaria is delayed, according to a Socialist MEP.

Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist group in the European parliament, told Financial Times a delay would unleash nationalism and populism in the two countries.

In his words both Bulgaria and Romania have ultra-nationalists, fascists and former communists.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn is due on May 16 to deliver his verdict on whether the Union should allow Bulgaria and Romania to join in January 2007 or delay it by a year.

Although the European parliament agreed last year to Romania and Bulgaria joining the bloc, a clash between Rehn and MEPs would create an embarrassing political situation at a time when some national politicians in the EU are calling for the brakes to be applied to the enlargement process, FT points out.

Martin Schulz's position jars with that of leading German centre-right parliamentarians, who have said corruption and other problems in the two countries would justify delaying until 2008.

Last month, MEPs also adopted a report compiled by Elmar Brok, the German chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, who argued that the EU's "absorption capability is under present conditions insufficient".

On Monday evening Olli Rehn will brief MEPs on the way Bulgaria and Romania are preparing for membership. Later this week, he will travel to Bucharest for his final round of talks with the Romanian leadership before giving his verdict on the country's preparations next month.

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