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Romania and Bulgaria joining the EU

Posted: 2006-11-13 19:36:47, Categories: Travel, General, Romania, Bulgaria, 722 words (permalink)

Two ladies in a horse cart in Marisel village, Romania. Both Romania and Bulgaria will join the European Union from the beginning of year 2007. On the streets it hasn't been much visible except for various signs telling about EU supported renovation and construction projects, but in conversations it's naturally a hot topic.

In both countries people in cities seems to be generally optimistic but there are also many who aren't really happy about the whole process. The marketing folks touted about more prosperity and other advantages, while critical voices during the negotiation process were few and far between. As the big date approaches also the less rosy aspects of EU integration are becoming more apparent.

Prices are rising, people say, while salaries are not. In particular property prices have climbed out of reach from ordinary people trying to save towards an apartment or house. After the collapse of communism apartments were generally given to the people living in them. Therefore most people have a place to stay, but for a young couple wishing to start a family the situation is difficult. Beneficiaries have been mostly the rich who have been able to work through corrupted municipality administrations. They are building ugly-looking but luxurious hotel complexes in places of natural beauty, eagerly waiting for new tourists.

EU will also impose new rules on the production of food, taxes on home-made alcohol and possibly outlaw certain traditional dishes. Otherwise most wouldn't care much of the whole EU thing, but invasions to the traditional ways of life is making people angry. Bulgarians have named their chief negotiator "the yes lady", saying she gave up too easily to all EU demands in order to guarantee the acceptance of Bulgaria for integration.

More positive changes brought by EU include efforts to reduce corruption, to fight organized crime, to increase transparency in the justice system and to improve the rights of ethnic minorities. There are also EU requirements concerning waste management and environmental protection which will hopefully result in a healthier environment for everybody.

Most of the debate around EU is centered around money. That's not a surprise, as it's a primarily economy-driven union. There may be some hard times in the beginning, but I have no doubts that eventually it will bring more wealth to the new regions. A more subtle question are the changes it will bring to the lifestyle. It's good if everyday life will become a bit easier and people will have more choice what to do with their lives. On the other hand, if every horse cart will be replaced by a tractor, if people will get their wine from a shop instead of their own or friend's barrel, if shepherds won't be following their sheep over beautiful hilly grasslands any more, something important will be lost forever.

Of course a lot of the changes have already been happening and would happen also without EU. It's the result of entering market economy and global markets after a long period of communism. Joining the EU will just speed up the whole process. Many young people have already for years moved abroad to gain better salaries and virtually every family has some family members or close friends working outside their homeland. EU will obviously make this even easier and it remains to be seen how many will return.

A detail which several Romanians mentioned to me is that while several Western European countries put restrictions on work permits for people coming from new EU member states, Finland decided to open doors for everybody. Traditionally Finland has been quite restrictive towards immigration, so it's interesting to see that in this case we're more open than many other EU member states.

Travelers in both Romania and Bulgaria are happy that becoming an EU citizen will mean visa-free travel to a larger number of countries. Curiously the change is not so big concerning traveling in Europe - neither Romanians nor Bulgarians have required visas for most European countries for years - but several Asian, South American and African countries will become easier to access after joining the EU.

One small change we'll all notice is that new banknotes will carry the text EBPO in addition to EURO and EYPΩ. Bulgarians are proud to mention that the cyrillic alphabet was invented by them (not Russians) and now it will become the third official alphabet in the European Union. Cool. :)

11 comments

Comment from: Martin-Éric [Visitor]  

Finland is currently more open than most EU countries, but only towards new EU member states. This is Finland’s cheap strategy to attract new labor in desperately needs, without the hassle of an expansive marketing campaign abroad. Meanwhile, Finland continues to act like complete jerks towards people from outside EU.

As far as truly welcoming society goes, Poland wins over Finland any day: Poland has completely abolished the need for a residence permit in a lot of employment sectors. They are also unilaterally offering citizenship to anyone who has lived there for at least 5 years. Poland views these two tactics as for more effective in not only attracting but in fact retaining foreigners: give immigrants something to make relocation truly worth the effort. I’m definitely in.

PS: your travel blog makes for really nice reading! :)

2006-11-14 @ 00:22
Comment from: Commenter [Visitor]  
I remember working in Germany. They had many Polands in low salary jobs. I think that Martine has a good point, we need new work force also in Finland. As far as I know all Finnish people like Polish people. The citizenship should be more easily accessible to people really wanting to adapt themselves to society. In Finland we are a little bit afraid of Somalians, as they are the group that is the most interested in citizenships. I don’t know how large procentage of the polish immigrants are from Somalia? If things were easier in Finlad I think that 50% ot the new immigrants would be from there. Some people think that these people don’t adapt themselves too easily to Finnish society but on the other hand some people think that it only takes some decades for them. Either way, this is the reason why it is difficult to get Finnish citizenship.
2006-11-14 @ 09:23
Comment from: Real Bulgaria Fan [Visitor]  
I think it is great that it has finally happened that Romania and Bulgaria. I can understand critics the concerns of people, but I strongly believe that overall joining the EU will have a positive effect on both countries. I visited Bulgaria a view years ago and I am looking forward to visit it again soon and see what has changed.
2008-01-29 @ 18:29
Comment from: Taiwo Osaro omoregie [Visitor]  
forget about going to Bulgaria,nothing has changed and will never,its people need to change and the government need to be more Europeans and stop being static.I have lived there for 9 years,my wife is Bulgarian,living in Bulgaria will make your life miserable.
2009-01-28 @ 00:11
Comment from: Taiwo Osaro Omoregie [Visitor]
Forget about Bulgaria, what good can a normal person get from Bulgaria, Bulgaria is like a bamboo stick with no skin, if you have anything to loose, go there. I just pity my family and other poor foreigners, who are going through the same hell like my wife and children. If Bulgaria is actually a good place, how come that, even the most outcast citizens(Gypsies) are leaving, and are going to other EU states like Greece in search of what they’ve been deprived off, thanks to EU.But not all Bulgarians are having share of this so called EU cake.
2009-04-10 @ 17:52
Comment from: Taiwo Osaro Omoregie [Visitor]
I think Bulgaria will never change, its people like money so much, and are very materialistic, they also like to show off. There are good Bulgarians, but they have no voice, Bulgarians themselves do no care so much about their country as far as they can cross borders and go to place like Greece to work and earn salaries in hard currency. Bulgaria use to be a nice and beautiful place anyone would want to live, the bad guys have destroyed its image. Bulgarians have been thought in the communist style never to oppose the government, people are afraid to speak against the government. EU should keep a close eye on Bulgaria, otherwise, its investment programs will yield nothing.What Bulgaria needs is a new government without the participation of any of the communist members or the duds.
2009-04-10 @ 18:31
Comment from: Taiwo Osaro Omoregie [Visitor]  
When will Bulgaria start to issue the EU family member type of permit to foreigners married to Bulgarians? We have been too embarrassed at various borders point with the old type of permit, at least, it should be replaced with the EU type since Bulgaria is now a full member of the EU. Please post information to my mail box if you have one concerning this issue.
2009-04-12 @ 00:10
Comment from: Taiwo Osaro Omoregie [Visitor]
Bulgaria is a place where humans are systematically tortured by their static and non progressive system of government,its only good for animals and gypsies.That country is a stain in EU.
2010-04-05 @ 11:39
Comment from: [Member]
Taiwo, Perhaps you could consider giving some hints for foreigners how they can more easily get the necessary permits and paperwork done? You would certainly have some helpful information to share after 10 years of living there. That would be more useful to other people in similar situation than your current comments. Arto
2010-04-05 @ 23:48
Comment from: Taiwo Osaro Omoregie [Visitor]
In respond to Arto Teras comments. You may be right to an extent,no one like the truth when it comes to issues like politic.The only advise and hint i will give is this. Go and live in Bulgaria,then you will decide for yourself what you will do afterwards.In regards to dorcumentation, makesure you are loaded financially because nothing happens there in a normal way,you will be drained until you give up on your own.But if you are like me with no backborn or money to pay lawyers,you are only going to waste your precious time. Why are the british selling their houses and living.We all want a world free of bribery and corruption,the lawyers are waiting for every chance to make cool money from foreigners, except for those honest and old lawyers who still have the communist ideas, not everyone can afford to bribe and have things done by going through the back door.Bulgaria is a beautiful place with some honest people and nature, unfortunately, not everyone enjoys that free gift from God.
2010-04-08 @ 10:13
Comment from: Alexander [Visitor]
Hey, guys! I need a book, article or research about problems of Bulgaria and Romania before joining EU. If they were not fulfilling criteria, why they were accepted? I need to evaluate the challenges of the enlargement policy of the EU and base on 2007 integration case. Please help me if you have something appropriate! I will be very thankful! you will save my final grade at the University! Thanks Alex
2012-01-07 @ 19:28

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Copyright Arto Teräs <ajt@iki.fi>, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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