Tag Archives: safeguard clause

Regular Report under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism

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.”

Dutch Government Considers Safeguard Clause for Bulgaria and Romania

Dutch Minister of European Affairs Frans Timermans has asked the Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot to consider the possible activation of the safeguard clause for the judiciary together with the forthcoming publication of the CVM report on Romania and Bulgaria.

This comes after the “Borilski” case controversy in Bulgaria that may prompt  a de facto invocation of the safeguard clause by France.

The Borilski Case – Reopened in Paris

France will initiate a parallel court trial of the case involving the infamous murder of Bulgarian Sorbonne student, Martin Borilski.

The French Appellate Court decided Friday to try in a Paris Penal Court the two main suspects – Bulgarian citizens, Georgi Zheliazkov and Stoyan Stoichkov.

The French trial is scheduled to start in the beginning of 2010.

This case has been going on in Bulgaria for six years now, and the two alleged killers, Georgi Zheliazkov and Stoyan Stoichkov, were acquitted by the first two Bulgarian instances – the Shumen District Court and the Veliko Turnovo Appellate Court. In March 2009, Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassations returned the “Borilski” murder case to the Appellate Court in the city of Veliko Tarnovo for retrial.

As somebody pointed out to me earlier last week, the parallel French trial is a de facto invocation of the safeguard clause pursuant to Art. 38 of the Act of Accession.