Bulgaria’s President Roumen Radev said on July 31 that he has vetoed a number of provisions in the amendments to the Administrative Procedure Code, passed by Parliament earlier this month, saying that the changes would reduce the ability of administrative courts to “defend the common person against unlawful and arbitrary actions of the administration.”
The right to legal defence has been repeatedly interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, which has ruled that the state should not raise legal or practical obstacles to exercising this right, the presidency said in a statement.
However, the amendments passed by the National Assembly would raise precisely this type of obstacles, the presidency said.
The provisions vetoed by Radev include changes to jurisdictional rules, introducing closed case hearings in the cassation stage of trials, “drastic increases” of fees in cassation cases and removing the cassation stage of trials in a number of circumstances.
“These provisions will reduce the ability of administrative courts to be one of the main factors that guarantee balance and controls between the different branches of government and the rule of law, thus endangering the lawful and democratic nature of the modern state,” the presidency said.
The controversial changes have been criticised by the civil society, with 50 non-governmental organisations signing a letter addressed to Radev on July 30, asking him to veto the amendments, arguing that they represented “a serious step back towards the authoritarian state.”
Radev’s veto can be overturned by a majority of 121 MPs in the National Assembly, but a vote is unlikely before September, with parliament going into summer recess last week. However, the opposition socialists also vowed to lodge a formal complaint with the Constitutional Court, asking it for a ruling on the amendments.