Olli Rehn Packs up for Sofia Visit

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | April 4, 2006, Tuesday // 00:00

EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn will pack up and land on a visit to Bulgaria next Thursday, April 13.

The visit is organized a month ahead of the European Commission's final say on whether the country is ready to join the bloc next January or a year later, in 2008.

Talking to journalists, Kristina Nagy, a spokeswoman for Rehn, stressed the preliminary assessment tabled late on Monday to the MEPs present no final conclusion or official document sealed by the EC.

The report due on May 16 could recommend a one-year membership postponement from 2007 to 2008 for both countries if entry preparations in key areas such as corruption and the judiciary fall short.

Olli Rehn has signalled putting off membership until 2008 is unlikely, saying that "a recommendation to postpone accession will only be made in cases of major problems."

Commission spokesman Kristina Nagy reminded also Rehn praised the recent amendment to the Bulgarian Constitution as "a step forward" referring to the limitations in MPs' immunity.

The EC chief was indicative, however, the invocation of the "justice and home affairs" safeguard clause is particularly likely for Bulgaria. According to commissioner Rehn it has not progressed well enough in reforming the judiciary and in its fight against crime and corruption.

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