Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The EU General Affairs Council: intensify your reform efforts in the judiciary

Adelina Marini, September 15, 2010

Bulgaria and Romania should urgently intensify their efforts for reforms, the General Affairs Council of the EU recommended in its conclusions after its session on September 13. The discussion on the European Commission's annual report on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) in the area of justice and internal affairs is an obligatory step towards confirming the recommendations in the report. Beyond the praises about the strong reform momentum, the EU foreign ministers have concluded that still there are a lot of deficiencies.

The list is short but, instead, it is concrete and well known - judicial and professional practice at the level of the prosecution and courts; the anti-corruption strategy, the law on conflict of interest and the public procurement procedures need to be properly and fully implemented. A more efficient judicial follow-up of organised crime cases. And in order to avoid a free interpretation of the latter, in their conclusions the ministers have written: "e.g. through the use of dissuasive sanctions and asset forfeiture, should be ensured".

They also insist on a full and timely implementation of the new strategy for judicial reform, which should be treated as a matter of priority. The Council notes that the CVM is an appropriate tool to assist Bulgaria and Romania in their reform efforts. The other Member States have again expressed readiness to grant every necessary assistance in order to meet as soon as possible the objectives set under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. This is why it is confirmed that the CVM remains functioning until the expected results are achieved. "In this context, the Council recalls that the Mechanism underpins Bulgaria's and Romania's efforts to fully implement EU policies. The Council will continue to pay careful attention to developments in this area."

Now the Commission's report has to be approved by the European Council this fall.