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On January 1, 2007, the European Union gained two more member states with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. Huge celebrations were held in both countries to usher in a new chapter in their history, seventeen years after the fall of communism.

The European Union now has 27 member states and a population of 485 million.

Bulgaria and Romania applied for EU membership in 1995 and began formal accession talks in February 2000. They missed out on the big expansion of 2004, however, after being told they were not ready.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said January 1, 2007 would go down as one of the most important dates in the nation’s history.

“It was hard, but we arrived at the end of the road. It is the road of our future. It is the road of our joy,” said Romania’s President Traian Basescu.

Romania stands to garner EU subsidies totaling 32 billion euros and Bulgaria is expected to receive 11 billion euros through 2013.

In 2005 Bulgaria exported 3,645,810 kilograms of cheese to the United States having a Customs value of $11,632,000. Romania shipped only 489,298 kilograms of cheese to the U.S. market during 2005 with a Customs value of $1,797,000. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has informed your Association that Romania’s U.S. tariff-rate quota for 500,000 kilograms of Italian-type cheese will remain separate during the 2007 quota year, rather than being amalgamated with the EU’s tariff-rate quota for this article.