Friday, October 20, 2006

Romania, Bulgaria to Join the EU, Strings Attached

Source: We're Off on a European Odyssey - The Economist

On September 26, the European Commission approved Romania and Bulgaria for admission to the EU. The decision must still be endorsed by an EU Summit and ratified by four national parliaments, but the admission of these two states is not in doubt. The expansion extends the EU’s borders to the Black Sea, where the EU has interests in energy and smuggling.

But the expansion comes with risks. Both countries, despite fast-growing economies, are extremely poor, more than any of the other eight post-communist nations that have already joined the EU. And both countries are notorious for their corruption. There is also a fear that admission would create a mass influx of workers into existing, and more stable, EU countries.

To counter these problems, Brussels is imposing certain safeguards. For example, the EU will cut subsidies if they are not properly administered. In addition, most existing EU countries are expected to impose restrictions on the flow of Bulgarian and Romanian workers.

1. Should the EU continue its expansion into Eastern Europe?

2. Will the EU’s new strategy of placing safeguards and restrictions on EU membership strengthen newly admitted nations?

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