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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 18:56 GMT
EU backing for Romania elections
By Oana Lungescu
BBC News, Brussels

Romanian election poster
The EU says Romania's latest elections were conducted properly
The European Commission has said the weekend's elections in Romania were conducted in an orderly manner and will not affect EU membership talks.

Romania is hoping to wrap up entry negotiations in the next two weeks, in order to join the EU in 2007 along with its neighbour Bulgaria.

But it still faces serious hurdles in the race to catch up with Bulgaria, which has already finished entry talks.

Romania missed out on the EU's big wave of eastwards expansion last May.

The country's entry to EU membership is by no means a done deal.

State aid

To show its concern about Romania's ability to police state subsidies, the European Commission has decided not to recommend the closure of this sensitive chapter.

Every state aid decision taken by the Romanian competition council has been wrong, a source told the BBC, so it has no credible record at all.

The commission also wants to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid going to Romania's biggest steelworks, Sidex, and to cut its annual production by almost half.

Some EU governments are also reluctant to conclude talks with Romania on the other outstanding chapter of justice and home affairs, because of concerns over corruption and inadequate border controls.

Romanian officials remain confident that EU leaders will endorse concluding talks by the end of the year.

But doubts about the country's readiness to become an effective member of the club are likely to linger.

If Romania or Bulgaria fail to make the grade by 2007, the EU could decide to delay their entry by one year.

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29 Nov 04 |  Europe
Country profile: Romania
24 Nov 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Romania
13 Oct 04 |  Country profiles

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