European Commission takes Bulgaria to European Court of Justice over water plans

The European Commission said on February 7 that it has decided to refer Bulgaria to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to fully finalise the revision of river basin management plans, as required under the Water Framework Directive.

The Commission said that Bulgaria failed to fully report its third river basin management plans as required by Directive 2000/60/EC, which aims to reduce and remove pollution in inland European water bodies, such as rivers and lakes.

Under this directive, member states must update and report their river basin management plans every six years. These plans, which include a programme of measures, are key to ensure good status or potential of all water bodies, the EC said.

The Commission said that it sent a letter of formal notice in February 2023, followed by a reasoned opinion in September 2023. Having deemed Bulgaria’s response “insufficient”, the EC said that it was referring Bulgaria to the ECJ, the final stage in the EU infringement process, which is meant to ensure member states’ compliance with EU law.

This is the first case involving Bulgaria that the EC referred to the ECJ this year. It did so in seven cases in 2023, on issues ranging from victims rights and biodiversity to renewable energy rules and open data use.

As part of its February infringements package, the Commission said that it opened a new case against Bulgaria by sending a letter of formal notice, the first stage in the infringement process.

In that case, the EC called on Bulgaria to to fully comply with the Security of Gas Supply Regulation. The Commission said that Bulgaria failed to notify an updated preventive action plan containing the measures to be taken to remove or mitigate the impact of a disruption of gas supply. The deadline for doing so was March 2023.

The Commission also said that it sent an additional letter of formal notice in an existing infringement case regarding Bulgaria’s incomplete transposition of the directive on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings.

The EC said that Bulgaria has two months to respond to the letters of formal notice, otherwise the EC may choose to escalate the cases by sending reasoned opinions, the second stage in the infringement process.

(European Commission headquarters Berlaymont building. Photo: JLogan)

Please support independent journalism by clicking on the button below. For as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies, you can support The Sofia Globe via and get access to exclusive subscriber-only content:

Become a Patron!



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.