Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev (right) welcomes EU Commission President Jose Barroso to Sofia in May (epa)
September 26, 2006 -- The European Commission is expected today to give the green light to Romania and Bulgaria to join the European Union on January 1, 2007.
Diplomatic sources say the offer will be made as part of a report on the progress the two countries have made on meeting the EU's membership criteria. The commission also has the option of delaying their accession by a year.
Diplomats say both countries will face tough penalties if they fail to carry out required reforms after they join.
On September 25, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said any further expansion of the EU should be considered only after the EU figures out what to do with its embattled constitution, which has been rejected in referendums by French and Dutch voters.
To view RFE/RL's archive of coverage related to EU expansion, click here .