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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 12:01 GMT
Romania welcomes historic EU deal
View of Bucharest
The EU remains concerned about Romania's judicial system
Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana has welcomed the completion of negotiations to join the European Union as a historic occasion for his country.

He accepted tough entry terms, arguing it would encourage his government to modernise its administration and economy before the 2007 target date.

The EU wants Romania to overhaul its judicial system, promote industrial competition and root out corruption.

Romania's accession could be delayed by one year if it fails to meet the terms.

It is a moment of joy, but also responsibility
Mircea Geoana
Romanian Foreign Minister

The European Commission's conditions for Romania are more stringent than those set for the 10 countries which joined the EU last May.

They are also tougher than those in the deal agreed earlier this year with Bulgaria, which is seen as better prepared for accession in January 2007.

Romania's agreement will be approved by an EU summit next week.

Mr Geoana told the BBC that completing the entry negotiations did not mean Romania could relax.

"It is a historic day for us," he said. "Romania and the EU have agreed to conclude membership negotiations... It is a moment of joy, but also responsibility."

He said the government in Bucharest would accelerate reforms to ensure it met the EU's criteria on home affairs, justice, competition and border controls.

Romanian Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu told Reuters news agency that the deal with the EU would boost the economy and help attract foreign investors.

The agreement comes ahead of Romania's run-off presidential election on Sunday.

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