An inquiry into EU enlargement by the UK’s House of Lords EU Committee has judged that Romania and Bulgaria joined the Union “before they were ready.” The new report, published yesterday (March 6 ) from members of the UK government’s second chamber also describes the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism as “unsatisfactory.”
The committee members argue that the so-called Copenhagen criteria should be met in full before accession in future. The EU allowed Romania and Bulgaria to join in 2007 before all criteria were met, leading to the use of the post accession Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. This, suggests the inquiry, was a mistake. According to the select committee “Both countries [Romania and Bulgaria] still have work to do on judicial reform and corruption and it would have been better if these reforms had been implemented before they were made Member States.”
This comes soon after Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen said Romania and Bulgaria were accepted into the EU too soon. Finland and Germany recently expressed their intent to veto Romania’s accession to the Schengen area.
Overall, the report details many benefits resulting from enlargement. “It is important that the EU does not lose sight of the benefits enlargement can bring. The UK, for example, aims to export its way out of recession and a larger single market can only help that effort,” said the Chairman of the House of Lords EU Committee Lord Boswell.
The UK’s House of Lords’ report is clearly not against Romanian and Bulgarian membership of the European Union, it is rather the manner their accession was handled that is criticized. “We believe the Copenhagen criteria set the bar at the right level and they must be properly applied to any future candidates for EU membership. Failure to do this in the case of Bulgaria and Romania led to a scramble to bring those countries up to speed after their accession. That cannot be allowed to happen again,” said Lord Boswell.
The Copenhagen criteria are the EU’s entry requirement for new Member States. They include minimum standards for political institutions, human rights and economic systems.
The House of Lords EU Committee is a cross party group of members of the UK’s House of Lords, chaired by Lord Boswell.
Liam Lever, email@example.com