Romania urged to keep pace of reform for smooth EU entry

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania must keep up the pace of reforms and improve animal health and waste management facilities for a smooth entry to the European Union, expected in 2007, EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said yesterday. In the EU’s progress report in May, the Black Sea state received «red flags» for not having fully operational payment agencies for EU farm aid, and for an obsolete system for animal registration and a lack of facilities to collect and treat animal byproducts. But Kyprianou said Romania had made great progress in most of the areas of concern. «If the same effort is maintained… I don’t expect major problems to appear in my field of activity,» he told a news conference. The EU’s executive is expected to recommend the entry date for Romania and Bulgaria in late September. It can delay their accession by one year to 2008 if deemed not ready to join. Kyprianou said areas that require the hardest work were control of swine fever outbreaks and improving waste management. «I am confident that for the majority of the issues… Romania can meet the accession criteria before 2007. If not, we will intervene with technical temporary measures,» Kyprianou said. «It is too early to say what these measures will be.» The agriculture ministry said it had reduced the number of swine fever outbreaks to 63 at present, from 1,500 recorded at the end of last year. It had also picked a company to handle animal waste this month.