The European Commission said on July 22 that it was taking Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU over its failure to protect unique habitats and important bird species in the Rila Mountains. The EC also stepped up its infringement proceedings in two other cases by issuing reasoned opinions, the second stage of the infringement process.
Bulgarian authorities have failed to widen the zone classified as a special protection area in order to provide adequate protection to endangered species of wild birds, the EC said. Bulgaria has so far properly classified 72 per cent of the zone as a special protection area, but this did not cover significant parts of the habitats of 17 endangered bird species.
Despite the Commission’s reasoned opinion sent in October 2014 about the need to extend protection areas in the Rila Mountains, Bulgaria has not complied with this obligation, leading to the ECJ referral. In January, the court ruled against Bulgaria in a similar case concerning the designation and protection of Kaliakra, another important area for protection of birds in the southern Dobrudja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
The EC also sent a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria, requesting that it complies with EU provisions reducing the energy consumption of buildings. Under this directive, member states are required to establish and apply minimum energy performance requirements for new and existing buildings, to ensure the certification of buildings’ energy performance as well as to ensure that regular inspections of heating and air conditioning systems take place.
In transposing the directive, Bulgaria failed to ensure that energy performance certificates are always issued and handed to the prospective buyer or tenant. Additionally, the Bulgarian law contains exemptions from the energy performance requirements, which are not foreseen in the eirective, and inconsistencies with regard to the inspection frequency requirements for heating systems.
Finally, the EC also asked Bulgaria to ensure the separation of accounts of Sofia Airport’s managing body, in line with EU requirements that airport operators split groundhandling activities from the accounts of other activities to ensure that there are no financial flows between the activities.
(Rila Mountains. Photo: Anton Lefterov)