The European Commission has published its regular annual reports under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania.
The report for Bulgaria includes an assessment on meeting the indicative benchmarks for justice and home affairs since its last full report (23 July 2008). It also makes recommendations to Bulgaria based on this assessment.
The report says that there is “a change in attitude and a more open and frank dialogue at all levels with the Bulgarian authorities”.
In more specific points, the report finds that:
- The establishment of a permanent Joint Team for the Suppression of Offenses against the EU Financial System is an excellent initiative;
- Killings linked with organized crime continue and known criminals are not apprehended;
- Organizational overlaps continue in the new structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs which has not yet led to increased effectiveness in the investigation of serious crime;
- Delays in criminal cases are largely caused by the extreme formality of the criminal procedure, a certain passivity of the bench and the seemingly limitless possibilities offered by the criminal procedure law to defendants to stall the proceedings;
- The Inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council has become fully operational and has achieved an encouraging track record in the investigation of disciplinary violations and of systemic weaknesses of judicial practice;
- There is a need for a more pro-active approach for fighting corruption in vulnerable areas and sectors such as health or education.
On the question of possible invocation of the safeguard clause, the Commission concludes that this is not necessary. According to the report:
“The kind of deep seated changes that are needed can only come from within Bulgarian society. The CVM is a support tool in this endeavour; it is not an end in itself nor can it replace commitment that Bulgarian authorities need to make in order to align the judicial system and practice with general EU standards.”