The people of Romania and Bulgaria will learn today that they are to join the European Union in three months’ time rather than in 2008. Within the European Union itself, doubts about eastern European newcomers have been raised by political instability in Hungary and Poland, two countries which joined in 2004.
People on the streets of Romanian capital Bucharest expressed enthusiasm and concern: “I think it’s a big step for Romania, especially for the younger generation,” said one person. “I am part of a farmer’s association and I’m worried I won’t be able to comply with EU rules and that would mean bankruptcy for me”, said another.
People also expressed mixed feelings in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Bulgaria is seen as having the most adapting to do to sort out crime and corruption. “I think that we will definitely have a lot of problems at the start. However, it’s all supposed to be for the better. I hope that Bulgaria will get the permission to join,” was one typical opinion. “The EU, above all, will teach us to respect rules and norms. I think to a certain extent that we have forgotten to be ethical as professionals and as people, in the way we live. By joining a framework of rules, I think we will become more normal”, said one woman. EU membership is expected to sustain impressive growth rates, bring in massive foreign investment and boost tourism in both countries.