The European Commission opened three new infringement proceedings against Bulgaria, while moving forward a fourth one, in the latest monthly infringements package published on July 19.
Most notably, Bulgaria once again drew the Commission’s attention over the country’s “systemic failings in its implementation of EU nature legislation,” specifically the EU birds and habitats directives that establish the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
The “additional letter of formal notice” was the result of Bulgaria failing to take into account the cumulative impacts of existing and authorised plans and projects to Natura 2000 areas, where many developments representing a major threat to conservation objectives have still been authorised.
“The issue was first identified a decade ago, and although Bulgaria has since taken some measures to address the issue, this structural problem persists and the Commission regularly receives complaints about plans and projects that are authorised on the basis of inadequate assessments, or even in the absence of appropriate assessments,” the Commission said.
Such projects most often are approved by municipalities on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast and mountainous regions with natural parks, where local authorities have pursued real estate developments in the name of boosting tourism revenue.
The two other letters of formal notice, the first stage in the EU infringement proceedings, related to the area of cybersecurity, where Bulgaria was one of 17 member states asked to fully transpose EU’s directive on security of network and information systems, and passenger name records, where Bulgaria was among the 14 countries that failed to communicate the adoption of national legislation that fully transposes the EU directive.
Finally, Bulgaria and Poland both received reasoned opinions from the European Commission, the second stage in the infringement procedure, urging them to fully transpose the European rules on alternative fuels infrastructure.
The rules, which introduce harmonised standards for alternative fuels infrastructure and basic provisions to enable electric mobility, aim to reduce the dependence of transport on oil and to mitigate its environmental impact.
The deadline for transposing this directive was November 18 2016, but the Commission concluded that both countries “failed to transpose certain operative provisions of the directive before that date.” They now have two months to respond to the reasoned opinion and should they fail to do, the Commission could refer them to the European Court of Justice.