Rather than a detailed Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report in writing, the European Commission would give the European Council an “oral update” on Bulgaria before the end of the month, EC spokesperson Mark Gray has said.
The update will be made in the context of the scheduled CVM report on Romania, due by the end of this month, he said. (Initially the report was due in December 2012, but was postponed because of parliamentary elections in Romania until after a new government and parliament took office).
When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007, their inadequacies in fighting organised crime and corruption and in reforming the judiciary led to the two newcomer countries being subjected to the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism to bring them up to the bloc’s standards in this area. In recent years, continued CVM monitoring has become an obstacle in Bulgaria’s way of joining the Schengen visa-free travel area.
The update was expected to focus on recent top-level appointments in Bulgaria’s judiciary, including the controversies stirred by the Veneta Markovska affair and during the appointment of new prosecutor-general Sotir Tsatsarov.
“As a more general point – because we’ve made clear that we will not comment on the person, we will comment on the procedure – is that prosecution is clearly one of the pivotal institutions in the process of judicial reform. That is why the reform of the prosecution is so important,” Gray said during the daily Commission briefing in Brussels on January 10.
“It’s in everyone’s interest that key institutions of justice command public confidence. Clearly, that means that if there’s controversy and if that confidence is put into question, the answer is for those institutions to work doubly hard to ensure that the actions they take have that public confidence.
“We are where we are now. I think what’s important is to look forward, to look at the track record that will need to be established by the prosecutor-general as he undertakes his tasks. Clearly, we will follow that extremely closely and report in the normal way,” he said.
(The Berlaymont building in Brussels, used by the European Commission. Photo: JLogan)