The European Commission (EC) has published its interim reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for the two newest member states – Bulgaria and Romania. The interim reports contain only factual updates of progress. The reports deliberately abstain from providing a detailed assessment of results achieved under each of the benchmarks but note some concerns on how progress has been evolving.
For Romania the report claims that:
• Although there have been some positive signals in judicial reform, results are difficult to demonstrate;
• Investigations into some high-level corruption cases remain blocked by the Romanian Parliament;
• The stability of the Romanian anti-corruption framework suffered several serious challenges through the Parliament’s initiative to change the nomination procedure of senior prosecutors and through its recurring attempts to amend the Penal Procedure Code with a purpose to severely restrict the rights of the prosecution;
• It is important that the Romanian authorities regain momentum on judicial reform and the fight against corruption so as to reverse certain backward movements of recent months.
For Bulgaria, the report states that:
• In the field of judiciary reform, the Inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council has gained some operational capacity;
• Steps to reform the Ministry of the Interior and to clarify the competences in the investigation of crime have been taken, but results are not yet measurable;
• The Ministry of the Interior and the State Agency for National Security (SANS) must still develop transparent procedures, in particular on the use of special surveillance means and the extension of the powers of investigating police forces;
• Effective parliamentary control over SANS must be established;
• Legislation on land swaps, party financing and the forfeiture of criminal assets is awaited;
• Legislation on the conflict of interest must be effectively implemented;
• In order to demonstrate systemic and irreversible change, Bulgaria needs to show that it has put in place an autonomously functioning, stable judiciary which is able to detect and sanction conflicts of interests, corruption and organized crime and preserve the rule of law.