All were nominated by their national Parliaments - and elections to the European Parliament for Romania and Bulgaria must be held before the end of 2007. As elections are not scheduled before the end of this year, from 1 January the observers will automatically become MEPs.
After a year hanging out with MEPs from the existing 25 EU members, we asked some observers for their impressions of the Parliament and what their respective country can bring to the EU.
We asked a cross-section of observers their opinions, from Bulgaria Maria Cappone who is attached to the European Peoples Party (EPP) and Evgeni Kirilov of the Socialist PSE Group. From Romania, Monica Maria Iacob Ridzi - also of the EPP - and Adrian Mihai Cioroianu of the Liberal ALDE Group.
On their impressions…
Monica Iacob Ridzi (RO): "I'm proud that I can contribute to the most important and ambitious political project in modern European history. I have learned a lot of things ...and I try to bring everything I learned to the Romanian Parliament: discipline, efficiency, political action based on values, responsibility." She went on to say that "the EP - it's Europe's political elite, a common vision... and a real competition between projects, ideas, arguments".
Maria Cappone (BG): "To me, this is a unique ...place where ethnicities, religions, political credos and the philosophies...meet. I think that for the past one year I was able to learn a lot from the practices in the European Parliament, and can’t help but feel enriched with the ideas exchanged".
Adrian Mihai Cioroianu (RO): "I am impressed by the way political diversity is perceived at the Parliament. Polemic is much appreciated here, as compared to other parliaments where, following a polemic, you end up with lifelong enemies".
Evgeni Kirilov (BG): From inside Parliament looks "better than I expected. I find parliamentary activities very well organized and I see quite a lot hard work and dedicated colleagues. My biggest joy is to observe and contribute to the growing role and weight of the institution..."
What can Romania or Bulgaria bring to the EU?
Monica Iacob Ridzi (RO): "Romania will bring to Europe 22 million new citizens, who never forgot European values. Still, they won't give up their own values. We'll be what we always were: a bridge between European political structure and culture and the neighbouring countries. Europe will be a model for us, and we'll be for Europe the place where political and economic opportunities meet".
Maria Cappone (BG): "We will bring an ancient civilization...we will bring the Cyrillic alphabet, rich wines and unique cuisine, glorious mountains and wonderful beaches. We will bring ethnic tolerance...and many young people ready to work for a stronger European Union".
Adrian Mihai Cioroianu (RO): "Romania will bring colour, dynamism and a growth in the Latin component".
Evgeni Kirilov (BG): "Bulgaria has a very rich culture and history and a tradition for tolerance...we have a fast growing economy and a new generation of entrepreneurs. Bulgaria will contribute to stabilisation and modernisation of the whole Balkan region".
Overall then, a very positive reaction - we hope their enthusiasm survives the tough daily work of the Parliament if and when they become full members!
Presenting a report last week to Parliament, the European Commission gave Romania and Bulgaria a cautious "green light" to join the EU in January 2007 - despite concerns over corruption, judicial reform and the ability to absorb EU financial aid. These areas will continue to be monitored by the Commission after January. MEPs will vote on the Commission's report before the end of the year. Parliament voted to give its formal assent to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in a resolution last April.