When they joined the EU on 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria still had progress to make in the fields of judicial reform, corruption and organised crime.
To smooth the entry of both countries and at the same time safeguard the workings of its policies and institutions, the EU decided to establish a special "cooperation and verification mechanism" to help them address these outstanding shortcomings.
In December 2006, the Commission set criteria ("benchmarks") for assessing progress made on these issues (consult the reports).
The decision to continue assessing Bulgaria and Romania shows the EU's commitment to see the two countries develop the effective administrative and judicial systems they need to deliver on the obligations of membership as well as enjoying the benefits.
Progress on judicial reform, corruption and organized crime will allow Bulgarians and Romanians to enjoy their full rights as EU citizens.