EC opens two new infringement proceedings against Bulgaria

The European Commission said on September 28 that it opened two new infringement cases against Bulgaria and was advancing the proceedings in three other cases as part of its latest infringements package.

In the first new case, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice, asking Bulgaria to comply with EU rules on document security, namely the use of 2D-barcode on the uniform format for visas.

The Commission said that the rules on the barcode, introduced to protect the entries on the visa sticker against forgery, were introduced in April 2020, with a deadline for implementation of May 2022.

However, Bulgaria is still not printing the 2D-barcode on the visa stickers issued by the country, according to the Commission.

In the second new case, the EC said that Bulgaria failed to correctly transpose Directive 2016/343/EU, which aims to strengthen the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings.

The Commission said that Bulgaria transposition measures fell short of the Directive’s requirements with regards to public references to guilt and the right not to incriminate oneself.

Additionally, the EC said that Bulgarian legislation did not correctly transpose the scope of the directive, since under Bulgarian law suspects who were not detained did not benefit of the rights provided under the directive.

The letters of formal notice give Bulgaria two months to respond, or the Commission could escalate the case by sending a reasoned opinion, the second stage in the infringement proceedings.

The Commission said that it was taking that very step regarding the ongoing proceedings against Bulgaria for failing to correctly transpose Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information in criminal proceedings.

This directive aims to ensure that persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings or subject to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) are given adequate information about their rights.

Bulgaria’s transposition fell short of the requirements of the directive, namely with regards to the right of access to the materials of the case, which are essential to effectively challenge the lawfulness of arrest or detention, the Commission said.

Furthermore, the scope of application of the directive and the right to information about rights and the provisions concerning the Letter of Rights on arrest have still not been correctly transposed, the EC said.

In a second existing infringement case, regarding the requirement for the country to review its river basin management plans and flood risk management plans, Bulgaria was late with the review, adoption and reporting of such plans, according to the Commission.

Finally, the EC sent Bulgaria a reasoned opinion for failing to implement Directive (EU) 2019/1151, which requires EU member states to introduce fully online procedures for the formation of certain company types, the registration of cross-border branches and the submission of documents in business registers.

Bulgaria did not notify national measures to fully transpose these rules before the August 2022 deadline, the Commission said.

Bulgaria has two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission in its reasoned opinions, otherwise the Commission said it may decide to bring the cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

(European Commission headquarters Berlaymont building. Photo: JLogan)

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