Newest EU in Brussels charm offensive

Publish date: 22-01-2007
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Both countries are on an EU charm offensive, with Bucharest launching a ‘Romania week’ of events on the back of this week’s foreign affairs ministers meeting in Brussels, and Sofia showcasing Bulgarian cuisine in the European parliament.

The new entrants are working through a series of showcase events across the three main Brussels institutions over the next few weeks.

Last week saw the Romanian road show target the European commission, with the Bulgarians in turn focusing on the council.

Next week sees the Bulgarians setting out their stall for the EU’s executive.

Taking time out from Monday’s council meeting to address a large crowd of well wishers at Monday’s launch, Bucharest’s foreign minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu said he hoped the range of events, from food tasting to movie screenings and photo exhibitions, would act as a “resume of what Romania is all about”.

Both countries are keen to highlight their ‘European heritage’ while also marketing their tourism potential.  Romania and Bulgaria are still relatively unknown holiday destinations for most Europeans.

Romania’s Sibiu shares, with Luxembourg, 2007 city of culture status, and the local organisers are keen to highlight upcoming events.

The cultural blitz is also being seen as an antidote to the so called ‘enlargement fatigue’ issue that plagued both countries EU membership talks.

Sofia also hopes that its raised profile will help politically, ahead of EU diplomatic moves over the fate of Bulgarian medical staff currently under death sentence in Libya.

Both countries also want to play down EU concerns over justice reforms and corruption as well as national disappointment over travel restrictions imposed by EU member states.

Bulgaria’s EU commissioner Meglena Kuneva will also be in the spotlight this week as she sets out her priorities for the coming year to MEPs on the parliament’s internal market and consumer protection committee on Wednesday.

And the Romanian and Bulgarian foreign ministers are also expected to attend Monday’s Parliament Magazine annual reception, along with both countries new MEPs.

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