Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The everlasting CVM reports are the safeguard clause

Ralitsa Kovacheva, July 23, 2010

Here is the commentary on the European Commission's Report, made by the political scientist Vladimir Shopov for euinside. As you know, in May euinside and Mr Shopov's blogeurope organised a discussion on the benefits and the future of the CVM. Many of the views expressed by the participants then, coincide with the findings and recommendations in this year's Report of the Commission. Which clearly shows the important role civil society can and should have to achieve the objectives of the CVM.

The government received its annual political bonus from the European Commission. After leaving aside the diplomatic arrogance of the “trilateral coalition” (the previous government) and retrieving the cooperative approach in dealing with the Commission, it received support. The cost of this is that the current mechanism has been fully legitimised as having indefinite duration and imperceptibly it will be left to work as a de facto safeguard clause under which, if necessary, any questions, issues and penalties can be introduced.

The overall assessment of the efforts in Law enforcement has its reasons, but there is no conclusion on any irreversibility and durability of the partial changes that have already been initiated. The Government is reading the report as a triumph of the approach “Long Live the Ministry of the Interior, teating on the judicial system”, which has nothing to do with the overall effect of the required change in Bulgaria: simultaneously and all institutions altogether. If this temptation continues, next year they will get a far more restrained assessment of their inability to understand this simple truth.

As all previous governments know, there is a great deal of transience in the Commission's assessments. And now, if you read carefully, there are enough "loaded guns" that can easily shoot out with a bang in case of inaction by the government: the lack of qualitative investigation; public procurement and a hinted relation with EU funds; possible infringements of rights in the creation of specialised courts; clear, although not explicitly written, criticism towards the Ministry of the Interior for the preparation work on special courts; clearly indicated relationship between separate institutions to achieve comprehensive and lasting change; severe deficits on issues of conflict of interest; anti-corruption policy.

All these questions this time are slightly footnoted, in order to prevent the EU from losing the little energy that is shimmering after the impertinence of the previous government. But the Commission will "squeeze" this Mechanism till the very last drop simply because there are not many others options. Yesterday's enthusiasm (July 20th) of the government smells like a new type of arrogance that seems to rely on the fact that the Commission is much more concerned about complete inaction of the government rather than about its authoritarian lurch.

There's a lesson to all those who dump all their hopes for a change to external structures like the European Commission. What are we doing if it really assesses these lands here via the coefficient of minimum harmful effects, instead of expectations and efforts for a real rule of law? This is another reason why the media fireworks don’t help at all to our long-term cause for normality.