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Bulgaria, Romania Join E.U.

The European Commission has recommended that Bulgaria and Romania be admitted to the European Union on January 1st, 2007. The addition of the two nations would bring the Union's membership to twenty-seven countries and raise the population by thirty million to four-hundred ninety-million.

The European Commission outlined a number of reforms that Bulgaria and Romania must complete in the coming months. Both countries need to curb corruption, money laundering, and organized crime, and continue with judicial and agricultural reform. Bulgaria, in particular, needs to improve aviation safety.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said that for his country, E-U membership would mark "the final fall of the Berlin Wall." Bulgaria and Romania are already members of the NATO alliance.

Romania has more than seven-hundred troops in Iraq. Bulgaria also maintains a small contingent of troops in Iraq. Both countries have deployed, respectively, hundreds of troops to Afghanistan, Kosovo and other locations alongside U.S., European and other troops.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the decision to admit Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union is "welcome news for those two countries as well as the E-U."

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the addition of Bulgaria and Romania "has consolidated peace and brought more prosperity in Europe. This is the right decision for Bulgaria and for Romania and this is the right decision for Europe."

Other countries are also seeking to join the European Union. "The E-U," said Mr. McCormack, "is wrestling with these issues of expansion and at what pace to take the talks that they have ongoing with a variety of other countries." These are decisions for the E-U to make. But the U.S., said Mr. McCormack, "certainly would encourage the E-U to continue to keep open a European horizon for a number of states, including those in the Balkans and Turkey, as well."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.