Brussels, 20 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - The European Commission has reacted critically to reports that the Commission is making a list of candidate countries for membership in order of their suitability.
A spokesman tells our correspondent the Commission is making no such list, and, moreover, that it has no intention of doing so even when it completes its report to the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers and communicates its opinions to the candidate countries themselves.
The spokesman says the Commission's job is to evaluate progress on a whole range of things, including economic progress, human rights, democratic systems, and so on. But, he says, its job is not to choose among the countries.
For instance, how can one compare a country which is strong on economics, but weak on human rights with another whose qualities are just the reverse? This, he said, is for the politicians, the member governments to do when they receive the assessment the Commission is preparing.
When pressed, Commission officials are willing to admit to our correspondent that it would be easy to guess how a country would be judged. A country could be perceived to be making excellent progress in all fields or, on the other hand, a country could be perceived to be doing poorly generally.
So, some intelligent guesses, Commission officials said, could certainly be made at this stage, as to what the final verdict will be when it comes to the EU Council of Ministers. But, in the meantime, the Commission has set its face firmly against doing any of that guessing itself.
Reports that began surfacing last week in Brussels said that Poland and the Czech Republic were on the purported EU "list" as top candidates for membership, while Romania and Bulgaria lagged far behind.