At the end of its meeting in Brussels, The European Council underlined that Bulgaria and Romania were an integral part of the ongoing round of enlargement by which ten new Member States joined the Union on 1 May 2004.
The Union recalled that the guiding principles which applied to the accession negotiations with the ten new Member States continued to apply to Bulgaria and Romania, which were part of the same inclusive and irreversible enlargement process.
Welcoming the very substantial progress made by Bulgaria and Romania in the accession negotiations over the past months the European Council reiterated the Union's common objective to welcome the two countries as members of the Union in January 2007, if they were ready.
Provided that real and effective progress in reforms and preparations on the ground for accession were maintained by Bulgaria and Romania, the Union confirmed its determination to bring the accession negotiations to a successful conclusion for both countries in 2004, on the basis of own merits.
As being prepared to assume all the obligations of membership is crucial for Bulgaria and Romania, The Union urged both countries to further intensify their efforts in order to be ready for membership in January 2007.
The Union underlined that particular attention should be paid by Bulgaria and Romania to improving their administrative and judicial capacity, as well as to continuing economic and structural reform, and to the full and timely implementation of negotiated commitments. The Union added that it would closely monitor preparations and implementation of commitments undertaken in all areas of the Acquis.