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EU Critical, But Says Romania, Bulgaria Ready For 2007

Brussels, 5 October 2004 -- Correspondents in Brussels say the European Union is about to issue a report on Romania and Bulgaria that will say that those two countries are on track for membership -- as expected -- in 2007.

But the annual progress report, which the European Commission will issue tomorrow, contains much criticism of Romania.

In copies seen by journalists ahead of publication, the commission refers to corruption in Romania, the opaqueness of the governmental system, and lack of independence of the judiciary, among other things.

The report recommends a "safeguard clause" that could delay entry of either Romania or Bulgaria by one year if economic and administrative reforms there stall.

A positive note is that the commission report recognizes for the first time that Romania has "a functioning market economy".

(RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent/Reuters/AFP)