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Enlargement strategy and 2003 report on the candidate countries
To review the progress of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey towards accession to the European Union and to establish the future strategy of the EU for these three candidate countries.
Continuing enlargement: Strategy paper and Report of the European Commission on progress towards accession by Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey [COM(2003) 676 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
The Commission states that Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey have made significant progress towards meeting the accession criteria. Accession negotiations are well advanced with Bulgaria and Romania, and will continue on the basis of the same principles that guided the negotiations with the ten acceding countries (Estonia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia). The EU supports Bulgaria and Romania's ambition to become members in 2007. Turkey needs to make further progress in compliance with the accession criteria. In December 2004 the European Council will take a decision regarding the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey.
Progress achieved by Bulgaria and Romania
Bulgaria and Romania have continued to comply with the Copenhagen political criteria. However, corruption remains a problem in both countries. Further efforts will still be needed to achieve efficient and capable public administrations. Problems with the living conditions of the mentally disabled and children placed in institutions still persist in Bulgaria, as do cases of degrading treatment by the police and trafficking in human beings. In Romania, solutions need to be found for problems relating to cumbersome administrative procedures, lack of transparency and inadequate capacity to apply policies.
In terms of the economic criteria, the report indicates that both candidates have viable market economies. If Bulgaria and Romania continue to apply their reform programmes, their economies will be fit to take on market forces within the EU in the near future.
Bulgaria and Romania have both made good progress with the adoption of the Community acquis. If they continue at the same pace, transposition of the acquis should be completed before the envisaged accession date. However, administrative and judicial capacity need to be further improved to allow proper application of the acquis. The quality of the legislation transposed in Romania has not always been adequate, and revisions are called for.
Pre-accession strategy for Bulgaria and Romania
At the beginning of 2004 the Commission will be presenting a three-year financial framework for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
Institution building in the candidate countries and investment in acquis-related development remain the principal objectives of Community pre-accession assistance, in particular under the Phare programme. Another priority of this assistance is economic and social cohesion.
Completion of negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania
Negotiations on the 31 chapters of the Community acquis have been opened with Bulgaria and Romania. At the date of publication of the report, 26 chapters were provisionally closed with Bulgaria, and 20 with Romania. Progress with the negotiations depends on each country's progress in transposing and implementing the acquis. For the two countries to be able to join the Union in 2007, the Accession Treaty must be signed by the end of 2005 at the latest, and negotiations must be completed well before that.
Progress achieved by Turkey
Turkey has accelerated legislative reform to comply with the political criteria. However, it is not yet in total compliance. Further efforts are needed to close the gap between legislation and practice. The Commission emphasises that failure to reach an agreement to solve the Cyprus problem could be a serious obstacle to Turkey joining the EU. It considers that an overall settlement of the problem is possible before the accession of Cyprus to the Union on 1 May 2004.
In terms of the economic criteria, the Turkish market economy has made considerable progress. Nevertheless, some macroeconomic imbalances persist.
As regards the criterion of adopting the Community acquis, Turkey has made good progress in certain areas, but further efforts are needed in others. Administrative capacity needs to be significantly increased to improve implementation of the acquis. The independence and operation of the judiciary, the overall framework for the exercise of fundamental freedoms, alignment of civil-military relations with European practice, the situation in the South-East of the country and cultural rights are all areas in which improvement is required.
Pre-accession strategy for Turkey
Financial assistance to Turkey of EUR 1 050 million is planned for the period 2004-2006.
Turkey participates in a number of Community programmes in different fields, and in the European Environment Agency.
Opening of negotiations with Turkey
Before the end of October 2004 the Commission will publish a report on how Turkey has complied with the political accession criteria. In December 2004 the European Council will take account of this document in reaching a decision regarding the possible opening of accession negotiations with Turkey.
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.