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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > April 2005 > Address by Josep Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament at the Signing Ceremony of the Accession Treaty with Bulgaria and Romania
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Address by Josep Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament at the Signing Ceremony of the Accession Treaty with Bulgaria and Romania

Date of Speech : 25-04-2005

Place : Luxembourg, Abbey Neumünster

Speaker : Josep Borrell Fontelles

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : Signing of the Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union - 25 April 2005

Your Royal Highnesses,

President of Romania,

President of Bulgaria,

President of the Council,

President of the Commission,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

On 13 April 2004 the European Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union. By granting its assent in that way, it gave the green light for the new enlargement process.

Dear Bulgarian and Romanian friends, that vote marked the culmination of efforts made by your governments and your peoples over many years with the aim of meeting the accession criteria and modernising your respective countries, both of which bear a heavy burden in the form of the legacy of the past.

It was a major challenge, and one which you have met by choosing democracy and the European Union. Your peoples have accepted the reforms essential to the economic restructuring of your countries.

It is true that we have been demanding, in particular in political terms. During the negotiations, the European Parliament consistently placed the emphasis on the fundamental progress required.

We have also paid very close attention to the European Commission’s reports on the shortcomings and inadequacies in the process. We will continue to pay close attention to that issue.

We now have two years until the accession takes full effect. Parliament will be involved in the work of monitoring the efforts which have still to be made and in the decision-making process should the safeguard clauses need to be employed.

We have been amicable partners, but also demanding partners. Throughout the pre-accession process, we have encouraged change. We have supported it, because it pointed the way towards accession to the Union. We have supported it, because we knew that change would above all work to the benefit of your fellow citizens.

Today, we know that the prospect of accession provided powerful impetus for the implementation of reforms. Those reforms must continue, in the common interest. I am thinking, in particular, of certain very specific areas, such as justice and home affairs, the environment and competition.

If the ultimate objective is to be achieved, each individual will be required to make a contribution. Each and every one of us bears responsibility for the quality of democracy and the strength of the rule of law.

Accession to the Union entails both rights and obligations. We must take steps to ensure that rights are respected and undertakings are honoured - on both sides.

We must defend and consolidate the values and principles on which our European Union is founded, and we must do so together.

We must build its future identity, the face it shows to the world, and we must do so together.

The Union must secure its political autonomy through the Constitution. It must be more than just a club of nations and our policies will not always accord with those of the United States, or those of other powers or continents.

It is true to say that European integration started with the common market. However, although the European Union is a market, it is also a blueprint for social cohesion which sets us apart from other Western models.

The European Union is based on financial solidarity. We are in the throes of a debate on the revision of the financial perspective and the EP is determined to reach agreement with the Council of Ministers. Not just any agreement, however – we are seeking an agreement which gives the European Union the resources it needs to meet the challenge of enlargement over the period 2007-2013. If we do not achieve that goal, the EP will make full use of its financial prerogatives under the annual budget procedure.

The accession of Romania and Bulgaria, like any other accession, is not an end in itself, but rather an opportunity to add a new dimension to the European integration process. That process seeks to promote peace and its values, including the protection of human rights, to create an area of solidarity and prosperity, and to assert Europe’s role in the world.

Less than one year ago, the EU expanded to take in 10 States, eight of them in Central and Eastern Europe. Their accession was a symbol of a reunited Europe, reconciled after an ‘unnatural’ separation which had calamitous consequences for two generations.

The reunion which started in May 2004 will not be complete until you have joined the Union.

In 2007, Europe will be the winner again!

Josep Borrell Fontelles

President of the European Parliament

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This page was last modified on : 25-04-2005

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