Observers from the two countries aiming to join the European Union in 2007 have arrived in Strasbourg, to take part in parliament business. Thirty-five are from Romania; 18 from Bulgaria.
Commenting on a report due out next month, on the state of their preparedness for EU entry, a senior Bulgarian delegate struck a determined note; Atanas Atanassov Paparizov said: “We must persevere; We are not going to get dramatic about the report. We’ll do our utmost to stick to the date foreseen.” That date is January 1, 2007, but safeguard clauses could postpone entry for one year if a country is found not to be adhering to the reform calendar. The observers will follow parliament debates and committee work but without voting rights. Scepticism continues to build among analysts and politicians over whether either country will be ready to join on time.Some MEPs have said that if the safeguard clause were invoked the observers would end up on stand-by for more than two years or be asked to stop attending.