The situation of Bulgaria in the European Union recently became a very hot topic. It happened like this beacuse of the latest Co-operation and Verification Mechanism report of 22nd January 2014, that discribed the current situation of Bulgaria on the grounds of: corruption, improving of the judiciary as well as organized crimes. Since 2007 both Romanians and Bulgarians have been put in the CVM to prepare and to adapt them to the Union standards. Now, after 18 months of preparation the report appeared again to evaluate the current state of progress in the country. Romania has made some crucial advancements…but what about Bulgaria?
So in which aspects Bulgaria improved – well on not many, that is certain. There were some enhancements on the grounds of appointment procedures, some useful managerial steps by the Prosecutor General and some progress by the Supreme Judicial Council on the workload issue. In general there is a lot more to do than this. The Commission believes that the monitoring process of the CVM, the opportunities provided by EU funds and the constructive engagement of the Commission and many Member States continue to be a valuable support to reforms in Bulgaria. According to the report, Bulgaria made some small steps towards better, but also did some bigger steps back so it is really difficult to say whether it is better or worse. It is considered as „not yet sufficent and fragile”. The Eurobarometer shows that 96% of Bulgarians think that corruption and organized crime are very important issues, also 92% say that the judicial system of Bulgaria needs to be properly adjusted. This shows that residents are (mostly) aware of the problem.
Bulgaria still did not fulfil obligations in the field of „independence, accountability and integrity of the judiciary”, reform and efficency of the Judicial System as well as corruption and organized crime. What still needs to be improved in Bulgaria puts a very important question: Is it possible? Since last CVM not much has changed on those grounds, and it is not strictly connected to the people – more to the authorities of the country.
Everything connected with CVM started in 2007, exactly on 1st of January when the Comission decided to present and establish the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. The main goal was to assess the fulfillment of the Bulgaria‚s commitments in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime. Those CVM reports were supposed to be made on regular basis to keep track on the situation and properly intervene if necessary. The Commission reports are complemented by a staff-working document which sets out the Commission’s detailed analysis against each of the benchmarks set for the CVM. The first report was made 27th of June and it is evenly done till now.
In July 2012, the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism was extented in time to 18 months of regular reports, instead of just 1 year, to simply give more time to the country to adapt the rules made by the EU and to see if they will sustain „on their own” in the country for a longer period of time.
The assesment made by the Commission is very crucial in putting forward the situation of Bulgaria in the European Union. It is mostly based on „progress of the Bulgarian authorities and on information by Member States, international organisations, independent experts and a variety of other sources”. There were also questionarries created by the Commission and the reply to them was required from the Belgian government.
The steps of Bulgaria are surely slow but certain. From year to year we can notice some small improvements on various grounds. Also we need to take into consideration that the last few months was a very difficult time for this country, mostly because of three different governments – each of which trying to take their stand. What the near future will bring – we will see in about a year when a new report will be created. Right now – I think this is a change for better.