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If everything goes to plan, the European Union (EU) will have two additional members in a few months, Romania and Bulgaria. Romania, with a population of 22 million compared with Bulgaria’s seven and a half million, is by far the more attractive of the two markets with the potential for huge returns on investment. Real estate activity in Bucharest is currently very high, as western retailers and pre-accession speculators look to enter the market; foreign banks are buying stakes in local banks (most notably Austria’s Erste Bank’s €3.7bn (£2.6bn) acquisition of BCR) and the country is gearing up to give its infrastructure a much-needed overhaul: the classic indicators of a country about to enter the EU.

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