ARTICLES 
Bulgaria celebrates signing of EU accession treaty
www.eubusiness.com, 25th April 2005

Bulgarians were celebrating nationwide, with children off from school Monday, as the former communist state was set to sign an accession treaty to clear the way to joining the European Union in 2007.

Bulgaria and Romania are both to sign the accession treaty Monday, and join the EU as the 26th and 27th members of the Union.

On Monday morning, Bulgarian and Romanian children met on a Danube river bridge between the cities of Ruse in Bulgaria and Giorgiu in Romania to cut a flower garland in a symbolic breaking of the boundary between the countries.
In the afternoon, traditional songs and dancing will resound over the Danube from the border towns on both sides of the river.

"Congratulations, Europeans!" wrote Monday the most widely-circulated Bulgarian daily newspaper Trud on its front page.

Immediately after the signature of the treaty in Luxembourg, to be broadcast live by the national radio and TV stations, Sofia will fly 616 balloons, marking the days remaining until the January 2007 accession.

The Bulgarian National Bank has also cut a special symbolic coin with a value of 1.95583 leva, which is the euro-leva exchange rate, to mark the accession.


All babies born on Monday will receive a golden medal with the inscription "Eurobaby 2005."

Recent opinion polls in Bulgaria show that over 60 percent of the population favour the accession.

But only 29 percent said they had travelled to a EU country and only 29 percent speak one of the EU languages, according to a poll by the MBMD institute.

Almost 43 percent of those polled believe that they will not be treated as "second-rate Europeans" and 46 percent hope for an improved standard of living.
For another 64 percent the EU also stands for a stricter observance of law and order.

"People have non-realistic ideas about their incomes," the national polling agency NCIOM said in a report.

All Bulgarians, and especially the young and the better educated believe that after the accession their
standard of living will approach that of Western Europeans, NCIOM said.

Only 13 percent said they wanted to live and work abroad after the accession, while 60 percent said they would not be tempted to leave Bulgaria.


But there were also signs of euroscepticism in polls, especially with regard to a previewed partial closure of units at Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant at Kozloduy at the end of 2006.

The closure was agreed as part of the country's pre-accession negotiations.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), a favourite in legislative elections due in June, even called for the energy chapter for joining the EU to be renegotiated and for two modernised 440-megawatt nuclear power reactors to remain in use.





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