European Commission officials have been quoted as saying Bulgaria and Romania are not ready for membership, but including them may encourage reforms. The two states will be the poorest of the European Union. Bulgaria is of the most concern – because of the level of organised crime and corruption in the country. On the streets of its capital, Sofia, opinions about joining the EU were mixed. One man said he wanted to go to work in another country – if possible the UK, Ireland or Scandinavia.
“We have to do it. I don’t think we’ll ever be ready. I don’t know, we have to be pushed a little,” said a woman.
In Romania, too, there was enthusiasm and concern. Like many of the other entrants from Eastern Europe who joined the EU two years ago, the country has already undergone an extraordinary change but there remains much to do.
Student Mario Luca says: “This can’t mean something bad. I hope it won’t be too hard for the majority of people. The prices of food and utilities will rise.”
Engineer Traian Pavel says: “This will be the first time we will be Europeans for real. Since our early history classes, we’ve been used to seeing ourselves in a different part of Europe. Now we can say we are joining a new family.”
But public opinion on further enlargement in rest of the EU is just as mixed.