This paper focuses on the current political and socio-economic situation in the two most recent EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania. Overall, the post-accession period in both countries has been comparable to that in the East-Central European members that had joined the Union on 1 May 2004. However, there have been some significant differences in the postaccession path of Bulgaria and Romania, which set them apart from the rest of the EU-10, as well as among themselves. For instance, the problem of corruption has been a particularly salient theme for the political elites of both countries and it led to the paralysis of the cabinet in Romania during the first year of its membership and to the rise of powerful populist alternatives in Bulgaria. What has probably been even more distinguishing in the cases of Bulgaria and Romania is their apparent inability to swiftly deal with the political and social challenges emerging after accession, as well as to adequately respond to the process of Europeanization. The main reason for this has been the unfinished political and socioeconomic transformation of both countries, accompanied by the consolidation of certain ‘reserve domains’, occupied by the former secret services and semi-mafia structures.

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