Not unexpectedly, Committee and Report Stages of the Bill have moved very swiftly through the House. As we said on Second Stage during our quite lengthy discussion with the Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, this is a positive further step on the road to broadening the European family, although the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania will not necessarily be cheering on the streets today or will not be tuning into "Oireachtas Report". The fact it is only a few decades ago since similar legislation was passed by other Parliaments throughout Europe to allow the accession of Ireland to the European Economic Community in 1973 shows we are taking a significant step and are moving towards the accession of two more countries into the European Union. These two countries were under the influence of the Soviet Union and were behind the Iron Curtain for far too long.
I noted the Minister of State's enthusiasm for the project last week and his realism in terms of further European Union integration in that it must be done in a careful and planned fashion. We must ensure the business of countries joining the Union is sorted out from governance, democracy and fiscal points of view. That is the challenge we are laying down for Romania and Bulgaria and, hopefully, they will meet it in the near future.
This is another part of project Europe, which is welcome. Eventually, we will have to conclude that project, although there are still quite a number of countries whose future is in the European Union. I congratulate the Minister of State on bringing forward the legislation and I was glad to have the chance to co-operate. Hopefully, Bulgaria and Romania will meet the necessary criteria in the not too distance future and will join us as partners in the European Union.