The European Commission said on July 25 that it has decided to refer Bulgaria to the EU Court of Justice for “failing to protect citizens from poor air quality”. As part of the July infringements package, the EC also advanced four existing infringement proceedings and opened another four new ones against Bulgaria.
On air quality, the Commission said that Bulgaria the latest sulphur dioxide (SO2) data showed “persisting non-compliance with the hourly and/or daily limit values for SO2” in the south-east of the country, where its four largest thermal power plants are located.
This is the second time that the EC has referred Bulgaria to the ECJ over air quality. In 2017, the court ruled against Bulgaria, finding that it failed to fulfil its obligations under EU’s Directive 2008/50 on ambient air quality, specifically as it relates to the concentration of fine particulate matter.
Bulgaria also received a reasoned opinion from the European Commission, the second stage in the infringement procedure, urging the country to ensure proportionate sanctions for not declaring cash.
Under EU rules on cash controls, any person entering or leaving the European Union must declare if they are carrying 10 000 euro or more. In Bulgaria, failure to comply with this requirement results in the confiscation of the funds not declared and additional fines or imprisonment.
The ECJ has already ruled, twice, declaring the Bulgarian sanction regime to be incompatible with the proportionality principle of EU law, the Commission said.
A second reasoned opinion urged Bulgaria to correctly transpose EU law on recognition of judgments imposing custodial sentences. Bulgaria has not communicated any adopted national law transposing the EU rules on recognition of such judgments, nor provided satisfactory answers on completion of the ongoing legislative procedures.
As part of its monitoring of the implementation of the Asylum Procedures Directive, the EC sent a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria asking to fully transpose the directive.
Additionally, a reasoned opinion also asked Bulgaria to fully transpose the European rules on accessibility of the websites and mobile applications. If Bulgaria does not act within the next two months on the reasoned opinions, the EC can the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Separately, the EC sent four letters of formal notice, the first stage in infringement proceedings. Two of them asked Bulgaria to comply with EU rules and remove restrictions on provision of services – the excessive administrative expenses imposed on foreign providers of security services and the legal provision that defines the duration for the temporary cross-border provision of services.
In a third case, Bulgaria was one of several EU member states to receive a letter of formal notice for failing to fully comply with EU rules on criminal sanctions for market abuse, with the Commission saying that their respective laws were insufficient on the scope of and sanctions for criminal offences in the field of market abuse.
Finally, the EC initiated an infringement proceeding against Bulgaria for failing to correctly implement EU rules on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.