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Jose Manuel Barroso (file photo) (epa)
September 26, 2006 -- The European Commission today gave Bulgaria and Romania the go-ahead to join the European Union in January 2007.
The decision came in a final report presented today by European Commision President Jose Manuel Barroso to the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg.
"The European Commission has just adopted its final report on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania," he said. "Our conclusion is that both countries are in a position to take on the rights and obligations of European Union membership on January 1, 2007."
But the report said a significant part of expected economic aid should be made conditional on the completion of further reforms needed in justice and home affairs, as well as food safety and state subsidies.
In addition, the two countries will have to report regularly to the EU executive on progress in reforms, with the first such report due on March 31, 2007.
Bulgaria and Romania missed the EU's 2004 "big bang" expansion into Central and Eastern Europe because of the slow speed of their reforms.
(compiled from news agencies)