The report presents the Commission's analysis on the steps Bulgaria has taken in the past eighteen months and shows where further steps are needed.
President Barroso said, "This report shows that in Bulgaria there is a need to galvanise the forces in favour of reform and provide leadership. Core principles like the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary must be at the heart of a long-term strategy for reform. A political commitment to this approach, as well as concrete and practical measures in the short term, is the best way to bring the process forward and accelerate progress towards the CVM benchmarks".
This report assesses the progress made by Bulgaria in the core CVM areas of judicial reform, anti-corruption work, and the fight against organised crime. These are issues at the heart of the modernisation of Bulgarian society: for reform to succeed, it needs a consistent and coherent approach based on a broad consensus in Bulgarian society. The fact that this period included three different governments has not helped to build this consensus,, though events have also illustrated a widespread public aspiration for reform.
Since the Commission's last report in July 2012 Bulgaria has taken a few steps forward. There have been some improvements in appointment procedures, some useful managerial steps by the Prosecutor General and some progress by the Supreme Judicial Council on the workload issue.
However, overall progress has not yet been sufficient and remains fragile. Repeated controversies such as appointments having to be aborted due to integrity issues, the escape from justice of convicted organised crime figures and a succession of revelations about political influence on the judicial system have affected public confidence. There remain very few cases where crimes of corruption or organised crime have been brought to conclusion in court.
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 continues to be a valuable support to reform in Bulgaria. The Commission invites Bulgaria to accelerate progress on its recommendations on the reform of the judiciary, integrity and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The next formal report is likely to come in around one year's time.
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In its latest report under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM ) published in July 2012 the European Commission finds that Bulgaria continues to lag behind in terms of the standards for justice and home affairs (JHA) applicable in other European Union Member States. In this regard, the report identifies the following key challenges:....
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Visit to Sofia on 27-28/January/2011
"In 2009 after information submitted by the Bulgarian Judges Association (BJA) an EAJ rapporteur reported on the dubious appointment of the president of the Sofia Court of Appeal. On the advice of the Working Group of the EAJ no further action was taken by the EAJ because there did not appear to be a general problem the EAJ should deal with..."
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