The article analyses the process of EU enlargement with reference to the progress that Bulgaria and Romania have made within it. It is argued that leaving them out of the wave of accession finalised in May 2004 for ten of the candidate states, has placed them in a situation of double exclusion. Firstly, their geographical belonging to the region of Southeast Europe has been rendered non-essential by their advanced position within the EU enlargement process. Secondly, their achievement in economic and political transition has been removed from the progress of the ten states, which joined the EU in May 2004 by delaying the time of their accession. As a result, any efforts in regional cooperation and integration between Bulgaria and Romania on one hand, and other Southeast European states on the other, have been effectively cancelled. Moreover, in current European politics, the two countries have come to serve the unenviable role of exemplifying on the part of the European Union how progress is being awarded and hesitation punished.

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