Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The EU should extend the monitoring over Bulgaria, a report recommends

Adelina Marini, May 11, 2009

"Almost two and a half years after EU accession, organised crime and corruption still represent
serious problems for Bulgaria. They influence in distinctive ways internal political dynamics,
the fundamental rights of citizens, legitimate business and the treasury". These are the conclusions of a broad analysis of the Centre for European Policy Studies, based in Brussels. The analysis is specifically directed toward to rule of law in an enlarged EU and the cases of Bulgaria and Romania. The Bulgarian part has been developed by Ivanka Ivanova from the "Open society" Institute.

The analysis also shows that organised crime and corruption have led to the following harms for the society: reduced public confidence in public institutions and the political system; infringement of fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens; hindrance of economic growth; restriction of economic freedom and entrepreneurship in selected business sectors – it is difficult to launch and sustain a business venture in some sectors of the economy unless political and/or criminal patrons give their permission or protection.

The research recommends the fight against corruption in the judiciary to be defined as a top priority for the Supreme Judicial Council and the Council, on its part, should implement in practice criteria for the assessment of professionalism when appointing and promoting members of the judiciary. Beside this Ivanka Ivanova recommends the office of the Prosecutor General to assess the impediments to and intensify criminal investigations and prosecutions of corruption in the judiciary, law enforcement and within its own ranks. It is also recommended evasion of frequent legislation changes, more transparency and reporting of the institutions. Bulgaria should not rely exclusively on external evaluation of the reform process; the State Agency for National Security should conduct periodical assessments of the risk posed by organised crime and corruption to national security, rule of law, economy and treasury that are to be made public, says the report.

Introducing an independent system for police oversight is another recommendation of the Centre for European Policy Studies, as well as improvement of material conditions, payment and the selection of police officers.

The analysis also provides recommendations towards the EU institutions: Sustain the CVM beyond the initial 3-year period, but modify benchmarks and indicators. Concepts such as ‘fighting organised crime’ and ‘corruption’ are not fit to serve as the basis for further monitoring. Binding EU monitoring more closely with other monitoring systems like Council of Europe's GRECO and the World Bank. Last but not least, binding EU monitoring more closely with internal accountability mechanisms – adjusting the timing of EU reporting to internal reporting mechanisms and providing critical assessments of the internal reporting systems and the indicators for effectiveness used by
Bulgarian police and prosecution.