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Bulgaria, Romania officially join Europol

A special welcoming event will take place on Wednesday night in Europol’s headquarters in Hague for its two new members Bulgaria and Romania.

Bulgaria’s interior minister Rumen Petkov will lead the Bulgarian delegation, which will include also chief police commissioner Valentin Petrov and the head of the police directorate for the fight against organized crime, commissioner Kiril Georgiev. The two countries will be officially welcomed by Europol director Max-Peter Ratzel.

On July 23, EU Council General Affairs and External Relations adopted the decision concerning the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Europol Convention. The decision entered into force on 1 August 2007 after having been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Europol now consists of 27 member states.

“It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Bulgaria and Romania as fully fledged members of Europol. Europol has for years had an excellent cooperation with Bulgaria and Romania, but as full members the level of cooperation will be even better and to our common benefit in the fight against international organized crime and terrorism,” said Ratzel two months ago.

Membership in Europol does not happen automatically. Joining the European Union is the first step in becoming a member of Europol, which also means that the acceeding countries must meet EU standards in areas such as data protection. Each new member state must then formally adopt the Europol Convention and accession is then formally agreed upon by the EU Council. Bulgaria and Romania have since 2002 and 2003 had an operational agreement with Europol and both countries have already liaison officers posted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. (novinite.com)