Speech by José Manuel Barroso - Completing the fifth wave; reuniting our European family
Sommaire: April 25, 2005: Speech by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, "Completing the fifth wave; reuniting our European family" at the Signing ceremony Accession Treaty for Bulgaria and Romania (Luxembourg)
Completing the fifth wave; reuniting our European family
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today is an important day for all Europeans. It is also a special day for me - the anniversary of Portugal's Carnation Revolution in 1974 which paved the way to membership of the European Union twelve years later.
Today therefore we celebrate democracy and the final steps in Bulgaria and Romania's own journey of towards membership of our European Union; a journey, which also started with popular revolutions almost 15 years ago.
And today, we are also completing the Union's fifth and more ambitious enlargement; the one that will be known in history as the reunification of Europe, putting the injustices of the twentieth century behind us and consolidating the spread of peace and democracy across our continent.
Soon you will soon take up your rightful place as equals among 27 Member States and almost 500 million citizens. Equality guarantees the rights and benefits which arise from European Union membership, and it also carries with it important responsibilities.
I know that this has been a challenging and demanding voyage. The Union and its Member States set high standards for newcomers. There are good reasons for this: more than ever, the Union is now a community not only of States but of citizens. Its success affects the wellbeing of its people in their everyday life and work.
It is my task and that of the Commission to see that the high standards are met by both existing and future Member States. So: yes, the Commission must sometimes be tough: we point out where the gaps are and we insist that they are addressed well before accession.
If necessary, in the case of serious problems we will take the measures foreseen in the Accession Treaty. But rest assured that we will also be working with you to overcome any difficulties as you make you final push between now and January 2007.
And we have every confidence that you are capable of completing even the most demanding reforms in areas such as public administration and the judiciary.
Of course, these reforms - and preparations for membership in general - should be seen for what they are: an opportunity to ensure your citizens and businesses feel the benefits of membership: benefits such as a safer workplace, a better economy and an increased standard of living, a cleaner environment, a more efficient and transparent administration, and better delivery of justice for all.
So let's work on this together: the European Commission will provide its help and expertise where needed. We will continue to help through the pre-accession programmes. Assistance is being increased by 30% in the final years before accession and will continue to be delivered in the first years of membership. We are investing together in crucial infrastructure and in transferring know-how.
Moreover, from tomorrow on, you will take part as "active observers" in meetings of the various EU committees and bodies, also in the European Parliament. This will allow you to meet with your counterparts, make your views known and get to know from the inside how the Union works.
After today's signature, the Accession Treaty will be submitted for ratification to all Parliaments in the signatory States. This process will be accompanied by a major communication effort, explaining the importance and impact of this enlargement. The Commission will play its part, but this is first and foremost a task for national leaders, on whose active commitment I count.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You have looked forward to this day with hope and expectations. And rightly so: joining the European Union is the fruit of many years of hard work.
You have carried the often heavy burden of difficult and demanding reforms in order to build modern societies.
You can be proud of your achievements that we are recognising today. Your reward is well-deserved.
Welcome to the Union; welcome back to the heart of our European family!
- Ref: SP05-254EN
- Source UE: Commission Européenne
- UN forum:
- Date: 25/4/2005
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