BRUSSELS, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Romania and Bulgaria have made "significant progress" in tackling official corruption, the European Union Commission says.
The preliminary report released Friday also found both countries still have steps they need to take, the EUobserver reported. They include building strong and independent police forces and corps of judges and prosecutors.
The report cited Bulgaria's creation of special courts to deal with corruption and the arrest in Romania of more than 50 immigration and customs agents.
"This report does take note of the significant progress since July, but it's not an exhaustive assessment, which will take place in summer," Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, a spokeswoman for the commission, told reporters.
Romania and Bulgaria are eager to join the Schengen Area. The area, which allows travel without border controls between its members, includes most of the EU except Britain and Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, and three non-member countries, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
France and Germany have both objected to admitting Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen. Some other countries have suggested postponing action because their application provides more leverage to get the two countries to reduce corruption.