Thursday, 6 October 2005
Department of Foreign Affairs
I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 42 together.
Following the signing of the accession treaty in April 2005, Bulgaria and Romania participate in almost all EU meetings as active observers. Both countries ratified the accession treaty in May 2005 and are scheduled to join the Union in January 2007, if they are ready.
In accordance with the December 2004 European Council conclusions, the Union continues to monitor the progress of Bulgaria and Romania towards meeting the obligations of membership. We look forward to the publication by the Commission of its annual monitoring report on 25 October 2005, which will provide a comprehensive assessment as part of this ongoing process.
We believe it is essential that both Bulgaria and Romania make full use of the period between now and their accession to ensure full implementation of their commitments so that they can join the Union, as envisaged, in 2007. This is in the best interests of the Union and of the acceding countries themselves. To this end, Ireland continues to provide assistance and advice to Bulgaria and Romania as part of the bilateral assistance programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is designed to help new and acceding member states prepare for the challenges of EU membership.