Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn is warning Bulgaria and Romania their reforms efforts still leave much to be desired if they are to join the European Union in January. Sofia amended its constitution last week, but Rehn said the independence of the justice system from ministry control remains in doubt.
In spite of EU criticism, however, Bulgaria’s foreign minister said other remarks had spurred optimism. Brussels has praised Romania’s progress in fighting rampant corruption and overhauling its judiciary system, and this was taken as a positive signal for both countries, since their joining at different times would add many complications.
However, Rehn said the timing of the Balkan countries’ entry was still an open question. Six weeks from now the European Commission will give its verdict. He also warned that they could be excluded temporarily from the bloc’s common border and veterinary policies, meaning tougher checks on borders between those countries and current EU members and possible EU restrictions on pork imports.