The European Commission is following events in Bulgaria with some concern, EC Vice President Viviane Reding was quoted as saying in a July 22 statement by Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev’s office.
Reding, who arrived Bulgarian capital city Sofia ahead of the local launch of a project to encourage engagement between EU citizens and the bloc’s institutions, said that the EU respected the rights of member states to decide their internal affairs for themselves, but some situations were reflected in the Union as a whole.
Reding is something of a hero figure to the tens of thousands of protesters who have been turning out daily to demand the immediate resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government that took office in May, but which the protesters see as utterly discredited. Two recent polls have shown majority public support for the anti-government protests, but the administration is refusing to resign.
Former ruling party GERB, which won the largest single share of seats in the May 2013 elections but was unable to form a government, has been boycotting Parliament. The centre-right party, headed by former prime minister Boiko Borissov, has said that it would participate in parliamentary proceedings only to discuss changes to electoral laws, but said on July 22 that it would suspend its boycott to take part in debate on a Budget 2013 adjustment proposed by the socialist government that would mean a billion leva (500 million euro) additional borrowing.
Reding, according to the statement by President Plevneliev’s office, expressed hope that political parties would make every effort to achieve a national consensus.
She said that current political events and civil protests in Bulgaria “clearly show the need for change”.
Bulgaria needs to intensify its efforts with regard to judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime, Reding said. She and Plevneliev agreed that reforms should be carried out not for the sake of Brussels, but for Bulgarian citizens.
Plevneliev told Reding that he would continue to seek all possible ways to reach a political agreement on the substantive agenda of citizens to resolve the political crisis and the lack of dialogue between politicians and civil society. He briefed her on the efforts that he had made in this regard in recent weeks, the statement said.