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Europe

Romania Gets Ambitious Over EU Entry

Romania has closed two more chapters of EU talks, bringing the country a step closer to ending negotiations by the end of the year.

The free movement of services and regional policy chapters were closed Thursday. In addition, half of the environment chapter has been closed, which leaves the competition and justice and home affairs files to be closed by the end of October, as well as the other half of the environment chapter. Romania wants to conclude all talks during the term of the current Prodi Commission. If that happens, the EU Summit in December should mark the end of the political talks with the country, prior to the accession. A common Romanian Accession Treaty could then be signed together with Bulgaria in early spring 2005 and accession should take place in 2007. However, if Romania does not achieve this goal, Bulgaria, which closed talks with the EU last June, is likely to sign the accession treaty alone. Speaking to the European press last week in Bucharest, foreign minister Mircea Geoana said: "I want Romania to be the new Spain of the EU," meaning a country once coping with reforms which has now become a successful EU member state. Geoana added that the exact calendar of the negotiations or the signature of the Accession Treaty preoccupies him less than the urge to prepare the country for a good accession. "The real motivation for the country is to know how well prepared we are when we join," he stated. (EUobserver.com)

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