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Bulgaria, Romania Advance in Effort To Enter the E.U.

Associated Press
Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A23

STRASBOURG, France, April 13 -- The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the European Union in 2007, but it said both countries needed to make changes.

E.U. officials have urged the two Balkan nations to do more to fight corruption and organized crime, and the approval by E.U. legislators is not a guarantee the countries will join the 25-nation bloc in two years. Their entry treaties contain clauses that could trigger a one-year delay if certain conditions are not met.

Officials in both nations welcomed the decision and said they would work to meet the conditions.

The E.U. has criticized Bulgaria's failure to adopt a new anti-corruption penal code and urged greater efforts against organized crime. Romania, which the E.U. declared to be a market economy only last June, also must improve justice and law enforcement, as well as ensure rights for the Roma minority.

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