Bulgaria in the European Union:

Bulgaria in EU

Bulgaria established diplomatic relations with the EU in 1988. In 1993, the European agreement on association was signed before entering into force in 1995. In December 1995, Sofia submitted its application for EU membership, and two years later preliminary negotiations were launched.

The Commission presented its first regular report on Bulgaria's progress towards accession in November 1998. The second report, released in 1999, recommended that formal negotiations be opened.

Accession negotiations between Bulgaria and the EU started on 15 February 2000. Sofia concluded its accession talks on 15 June 2004, six months ahead of schedule. The technical closure of talks on the final two negotiating chapters had been completed on 14 June 2004. The country's aim has been to join the EU as a full member on 1 January 2007.

Under its mid-2004 agreement with the EU, Bulgaria will receive 240 million euro on top of the previously announced funding of 4.4 billion euro from the EU's 2007-2009 budget.

In April 2005, the European Parliament gave its overwhelming support to Bulgaria's EU bid. On 25 April 2005, Sofia signed the country's EU Accession Treaty, which was ratified by parliament on 11 May.

In October 2005, the Commission's monitoring report said that Sofia must serve six months of further probation and until April or May 2006 it must "take immediate and decisive corrective action" in the fields of judiciary reform and fighting high-level corruption.

In the next monitoring report, dated 16 May 2006, the Commission confirmed that Bulgaria has continuously been fulfilling the political criteria laid down in Copenhagen, and that the country was a functioning market economy. At the same time, on account of a total of six policy areas which continue to give rise to "serious concern," the Commission decided to review Bulgaria's reform progress in October 2006 and to decide based on that review whether the originally scheduled January 2007 accession date was still feasible.

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