The European Commission issued a report on May 16 stating that Romania and Bulgaria could join the European Union in January 2007 provided they pass a final review in early October of their fight against corruption and improve state administration.
The report says Romania has reduced its number of so-called red flags (problem areas) from 14 to 4 mostly technical ones. EU officials have praised the Romanian government's recent results in fighting high-level corruption and reforming the judiciary. Romania's remaining problems regard establishing a computerized value-added-tax (VAT) collection system, food safety, and setting up agencies to pay and monitor EU farm subsidies.
The report presented in Strasbourg by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the European Commission wants both Romania and Bulgaria to accelerate reforms before their planned entry into the European Union on January 1, 2007. If by October the two countries are still lagging in some areas, the commission may decide to implement "safeguard clauses", monitoring mechanisms to ensure conditions are met before they have full benefits of EU membership.