Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said on November 1 that the European Commission’s threat to issue a Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report ahead of schedule was unfair, but said he was confident that Bulgarian institutions would show progress that would make such a report unnecessary.
A day earlier, Commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly said that the EC always had the option to issue additional CVM reports “if the situation in Bulgaria requires it”. The comment was made after Bulgaria’s Parliament appointed two new Constitutional Court judges, one of whom, Veneta Markovska, has been dogged by accusations of corruption and conflict of interest, disregarding calls from the European Commission for a thorough investigation of the case.
When Bulgaria joined the EU in January 2007, the institutional inadequacies in fighting organised crime and corruption and in reforming the judiciary led to the creation of the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism to bring Bulgaria up to the bloc’s standards in this area. In recent years, lack of sufficient progress in CVM reports has been one of the main arguments against Bulgaria’s accession to the EU’s Schengen visa-free travel area.
“Such statements are unfair because they spread rumours in the public space; all institutions should stick to the powers they have,” Mladenov said when the topic was brought up during an interview on the breakfast TV show of Bulgarian National Television.
Whether Bulgaria will be subject to a new CVM report before the end of 2013 will depend on the country meeting the goals that it has set following the most recent report, he said.
“I am confident that by the end of the year, Bulgaria will show serious advances in the judiciary and internal affairs area, which the Commission will acknowledge,” Mladenov said, pointing out that the newly-elected Supreme Judiciary Council was still settling in. Furthermore, Bulgaria was working diligently on solving the issues concerning the functioning of the judiciary, he said.
“If we continue to work hard, as we have until now, there is no danger [of an early CVM report],” Mladenov said.
(Photo: European People’s Party group in European Parliament)