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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

EUobserver / Romania threatens Croatia in Schengen dispute - 0 views

  • Romania is threatening to create problems for Croatia's EU accession bid in a diplomatic counter-attack against delays to its own entry into the EU's border-free Schengen zone. Romanian foreign minister Teodor Baconschi in an interview with the daily newspaper Adevarul on Monday (3 January) attacked Germany and France for linking Romania's Schengen bid to progress on corruption and organised crime.
  • EUobserver understands that this option is not really feasible however, as the monitoring was a jointly agreed commitment of Bulgaria and Romania when they joined the bloc. "It's unwise to give it up if you want something else at the same time," one EU official told this website. For its part, Croatia has already been held hostage by its neighbour Slovenia, which in recent years delayed its EU accession progress over a maritime border dispute. Romania's sabre-rattling seems to be directed primarily at Germany - Croatia's main supporter in the EU - rather than the Balkan state itself. But it could, in theory, delay the process. Croatia is hoping to finish EU accession talks in the coming months. EU governments and the European Parliament then have to approve and ratify its accession treaty, with membership likely to happen in 2013 if everything goes smoothly.
  • Mr Petkov's allegations reflect a dire image painted by EU officials in talks with US diplomats in Sofia, as reported in a US cable dating back to 26 June 2009 and published by WikiLeaks. Under the headline "How to you make them reform when they don't want to?" the US diplomats spoke of EU commission officials' "growing and by now extreme frustration with Sofia's cosmetic fixes to get a 'good report' while failing to undertake real reforms." "The government's defensive arrogance - and lack of political will - is intensifying enlargement fatigue in Brussels," an EU source told the US diplomat. "According to reliable contacts, Brussels Eurocrats have dubbed enlargement fatigue the 'Bulgarian Break,' further tarnishing Bulgaria's bad image within the EU," the cable added.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.09.10: Kosovo in New York - 0 views

  • After Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov took his turn among a succession of heads of state and government to have talks with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the start of the General Assembly’s new season, the UN’s news service said that Kosovo had topped the agenda, specifically the prospects for talks between Belgrade and Priština.Given hopes in diplomatic circles that on the sidelines of the General Assembly talkfest, an arrangement could be brokered to open negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, the topic of the Borissov-Ban discussions was hardly a surprise – especially given Bulgaria’s desire to take the lead in helping to get the Western Balkans on an even keel.
  • These developments all preceded what many hoped would be a turning point in New York – a scheduled September 23 meeting between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and  Tadić, at which – or so it was hoped – there would be some agreement on starting an EU-brokered set of talks between Belgrade and Priština, including a starting date for the dialogue.On September 20, Ashton met Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaçi. Media in Priština said that Thaçi had told Ashton that Kosovo was prepared to talk to Serbia about matters of mutual interest, but with the issues of Kosovo’s status decidedly off the agenda.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.01.10: Bulgaria puts price on Turkey's EU membership - 0 views

  • Bulgaria is threatening to block Turkey's application to join the European Union unless it pays out billions of euros in compensation for displaced people, in a case dating back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. A Bulgarian cabinet minister without portfolio who runs the country's Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, Bojidar Dimitrov, pressed the claim in remarks to the Bulgarian newspaper, 24 Hours, on Sunday (3 January).
  • "Turkey is surely able to pay this sum, after all, it's the 16th largest economic power in the world," he said, putting a total of $20 billion (€14 billion) on the settlement. "One of the three conditions of Turkey's full membership of the EU is solving the problem of the real estate of Thracian refugees." The Ottoman Empire in 1913 expelled hundreds of thousands of ethnic Bulgarians from lands lying on the western side of the Bosphorus. It became the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and recognised the rights of the displaced people in a 1925 treaty, but the agreement was never implemented, Bulgaria says. An official in the Bulgarian government press office, Veselin Ninov, told EUobserver on Monday that Mr Dimitrov's statement reflects government policy and that the dispute is being handled by a Bulgarian-Turkish intergovernmental working group.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.07.09 Bulgaria, Romania remain under Commission scrutiny - 0 views

  • Having consistently made 'technical' progress, Bulgaria and Romania need help to crack down on corruption, the European Commission said on 22 July with the publication of its annual monitoring reports, pledging further support while the two EU newcomers remain under scrutiny.
  • Background: When Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU on 1 January 2007, shortcomings remained regarding judicial reform and the fight against corruption - and in the case of Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime. These shortcomings carried the risk that the two countries would be unable to apply Community law correctly and their citizens would not be able to fully enjoy their rights as EU citizens.  A Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was set up to assist both member states. Moreover, the European Commission retained the right to use special safeguards, included in the accession treaties and invoked against new member states as a last resort. If used, the process could lead the EU to refuse to recognise court decisions or even freeze payments of EU funds. Such an unprecedented decision, if applied, would also badly hurt the countries' reputations.  In a turnaround compared to previous monitoring reports, where Bulgaria was invariably portrayed as the laggard in meeting EU standards on judicial reform and fighting corruption (EurActiv 24/07/09), the Brussels executive unveiled reports last February which depicted Romania as the slow performer this time (EurActiv 13/02/09).  The annual reports on Bulgaria and Romania are prepared by the Commission's secretariat-general under the authority of President José Manuel Barroso, in agreement with Vice-President Jacques Barrot. Recently the French Senate cautioned against "stigmatising" the EU's most recent members and suggested fine-tuning the CVM (EurActiv 30/06/09). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.12.08: Corruption in Bulgaria tests EU expansion - 0 views

  • Frustrations mount over Bulgaria – the most violent, corrupt, and poorest of EU members. Aid is being withheld as reform promises are made (and broken). Can it be fixed?
  • Bulgaria's case was putting the credibility of EU enlargement at stake: Brussels needed to send a message to those arguing against further expansion and to candidates banging on the door, including Croatia, Serbia, Albania, and Turkey. Just last month, EU officials warned Croatia that its failure to crack down on organized crime and corruption jeopardizes its chance to join the EU next year. "Brussels needed to get serious, to show they're not just taking a country's word for fighting corruption," says Katinka Barysch, deputy director of the Center for European Reform in London. "If they can't do that with Bulgaria, how are you going to do that with the countries still queuing outside?" In late November, Brussels slapped Sofia with an unprecedented penalty, withdrawing €220 million ($315 million) in development assistance – less than the initial threat of €500 million, but still a huge sum for the poorest EU member.
  • When Bulgaria and Romania were finally admitted to the EU in January 2007, they became the first to enter with strings attached: They were given several months to clean up their legal systems and to develop methods of tracking EU funding. Promises were made, but deadlines were missed, prompting a growing litany of threats from Brussels.
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  • The next EU evaluation of Bulgaria is due in January. Another $15 billion in assistance that Bulgaria stands to receive from the EU over the next few years could be pulled. A greater humiliation, says Ruslan Stefanov, an analyst with the Center for Study of Democracy in Sofia, would be internal shunning: Brussels could bar Bulgaria from joining both the eurozone of shared European currency and the visa-free travel area known as the "Schengen." Something has to give. Bulgarian lawmakers, up for reelection next year, find little sympathy at home. Opinion polls indicate greater support for Brussels than their own leaders.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.08: Bulgaria cited as 'cautionary tale' against enlarged EU - 0 views

  • The International Herald Tribune concludes its piece by warning that the failure of Romania and – especially – Bulgaria to honour its pre-accession promises mean that further EU enlargement is unlikely. "What has happened in Romania and Bulgaria has changed the rules of the game," the paper quotes Mladenov as saying.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

EUobserver.com - 0 views

  • EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn has signalled that Bulgaria could see a suspension of millions of euros in EU aid over persistent shortcomings in the fight against organised crime, in what could be the first ever such move by Brussels' against a member state. The European Commission is preparing a monitoring report on the southeast Balkan country to be published early July, as part of the close scrutiny that both Bulgaria and Romania are undergoing for not meeting EU legal standards before joining the bloc in 2007.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.05.08: Bulgaria and Romania face EU sanctions over corruption - 0 views

  • European Commission officials are to visit Sofia and Bucharest this week to assess judicial reforms, EurActiv Romania reports. The visit takes place amid mounting pressure in Brussels to invoke so-called "safeguard clauses" against the two countries, which could result in EU funds being slashed.
  • Background: Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007 under precise conditions. There are three areas where safeguard measures can be invoked under Bulgaria and Romania's EU Accession Treaties: economic, internal market and judicial reforms.  The safeguard clause can be invoked up to three years after accession and could result for example in food export bans or cuts to EU funds in areas such as agriculture and "structural" policies.
  • Experts from the European Commission will visit Sofia and Bucharest in the week of 19-23 May to assess the justice reforms, EurActiv.ro writes. According to reports in the Romanian press, the mission takes place at a time when some officials in Brussels are wondering whether taking the two countries onboard as early as January 2007 was "a mistake" and are applying pressure to activate the safeguard clause on justice.  Both countries could lose EU funds or have their national court decisions annulled if a safeguard clause is triggered against them. 
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  • Links Press articles Radio Free Europe: EU: Brussels Putting Romania, Bulgaria Under The Microscope Reuters: In Romania, high-level corruption resists reform TheDiplomat.ro In Romania, high-level corruption resists reform Reuters: EU's limited power to pressure newcomers Chritian Science Monitor: In Romania, high-level corruption resists reform
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.04.08: Macedonia rebuked over 'hate speech' - 0 views

  • The European Parliament has urged Macedonia to solve the 'name dispute' with Greece, warning the small country against a resurgence of "hate speech" in its media with respect to neighbouring countries.
  • The European Parliament report, adopted on April 23 with 601 votes in favour and 52 against (30 abstentions), represents a victory for Greece. Indeed, the text calls on "both sides to seize the opportunity to resume negotiations immediately […] so that the issue does not continue to represent an obstacle to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's membership of international organisations". 
  • Following the setback at the NATO summit in Bucharest in early April, when Macedonia did not obtain an invitation to join the Alliance due to the unresolved "name dispute" with Greece, the Macedonian press depicted its neighbour in a style reminiscent of the Cold War (EurActiv 04/04/08). Moreover, the Macedonian press traditionally projects a very negative image of Bulgaria - again reminiscent of Tito's Yugoslavia, when Belgrade had a hostile policy towards Bulgaria. The amendment warning against "hate speech" was introduced by Bulgarian MEP Nickolay Mladenov (EPP-ED) and supported by his compatriot Evgeni Kirilov (PES). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.02.08: Romania and Bulgaria warned over 'slow' anti-corruption efforts - 0 views

  • The Commission's interim reports on the progress made by Romania and Bulgaria on judiciary reform and fighting corruption and organised crime show that both countries must seriously step up their efforts ahead of the next detailed evaluation due in mid-2008. Otherwise they could face sanctions, Brussels warned. Related:
  • European Union Commission: Report On Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (4 February 2008) Commission: Report On Progress in Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (4 February 2008) Commission memo: Interim Report on Progress in Bulgaria with Judiciary Reform and the Fight against Corruption and Organised Crime (4 February 2008) [FR] [DE] Commission memo: Interim Report on Progress in Romania with Judiciary Reform and the Fight against Corruption (4 February 2008) [FR] [DE] Commission: Assessing ongoing progress by Bulgaria and Romania [FR] [DE]
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.10.07: Problems remain ahead of EU treaty summit - 0 views

  • With only three days until EU leaders meet in Lisbon to adopt a new EU treaty, a number of issues are continuing to cloud the horizon. EU foreign ministers at their final pre-summit talks in Luxembourg on Monday (15 October) left the contentious issues to the 27 heads of states and governments to work out a deal at the end of this week (18-19 October).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.10.2006: German parliament demands safeguards against Bulgaria and Romania - 0 views

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    The German parliament is set to demand the triggering of safeguards against Romania and Bulgaria immediately upon EU accession in January, in a move likely to further deteriorate the political climate surrounding enlargement.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.10.2006: Auch nach Beitritt Kontrolle Bulgariens und Rumäniens - 0 views

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    EU foreign ministers have formally endorsed the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the bloc in 2007 - but the slow entry preparations of the two countries has prompted the EU to draw lessons for future enlargements of the bloc. [...]
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.10.2006: Bulgaria's Elections and its E.U. Accession'' - 0 views

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    Broad analysis of the situation in Bulgaria during the presidential elections and before it's accession to the EU on Januar 1st 2007.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.10.2006: Bundestag stimmt Beitritt Rumäniens und Bulgariens zu - 0 views

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    Am 26. Oktober hat der Deutsche Bundestag mit einer überwältigenden Mehrheit, 529 von 551 Stimmen, dem Beitritt Rumäniens und Bulgariens zur EU zugestimmt. Der Bundestag forderte zudem die Bundesregierung auf, Druck auf die Kommission auszuüben, schon
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

Bulgaria and Romania Will Join the EU, But What About the Others? - 0 views

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    Barroso made the following statement (Sept. 25, 2006): "The upcoming enlargement with Bulgaria and Romania will be the last stage of enlargement allowing the reunification of Europe. There are limits to our absorption capacity." [...]
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.11.2006: Kommissionskandidaten Bulgariens und Rumäniens vor dem EP-Anhörung - 0 views

  • Nachdem das Parlament im Jahr 2004 einige Kommissionskandidaten abgelehnt hat, dürften sich die Kandidaten aus Rumänien und Bulgarien nun besonders gut auf die Anhörung am 27. November 2006 vorbereiten.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.01.2007: Romania and Bulgaria Join European Union - 0 views

  • Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union today, helping to end geographic divisions left over from the cold war and extending the borders of the now 27-member bloc eastward to the Black Sea.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

01.01.2007: Bulgaria and Romania enter the EU - 0 views

  • The event – seen as the completion of the fifth EU enlargement which began in 2004 – will see the EU's population swell from 463 million people to 493 million, its economy grow from €10.8 trillion to €10.9 trillion (the biggest single market in the world) and create new EU borders with Moldova and the Black Sea.
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