EC opens new infringement case against Bulgaria on access to lawyers

The European Commission said on March 13 that it opened a new infringement case against Bulgaria regarding EU rules on access to a lawyer and to communicate upon arrest as part of its latest infringements package.

The EC said that Bulgaria failed to correctly transpose into its national legislation Directive 2013/48/EU, finding that the scope of application of procedural safeguards under Bulgarian law was too narrow. It also noted “shortcomings” as regards the transposition of the right to effective participation by a lawyer during the investigation phase.

“Additionally, the Commission considers that potential possibilities to derogate from the right of access to a lawyer due to investigative needs go beyond the limits required by the Directive and that the requirement to inform the holder of parental responsibility or other appropriate adult of the deprivation of liberty of a child has not been correctly transposed,” the EC said.

The Commission also said that it was advancing three other existing infringement case. In one of them, the EC sent an additional letter of formal notice regarding Bulgaria’s incorrect transposition of Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on racism and xenophobia.

The EC said that Bulgaria addressed only part of its concerns raised in a letter of formal notice in February 2c021. Amendments to the criminal code passed by Bulgarian parliament last year did not fully comply with the EU rules, which require that “racist and xenophobic motivations be an aggravating circumstance for all criminal offences, or to ensure that such motivation is taken into account when determining penalties,” the Commission said.

In two other cases, the Commission opted to escalate matters by issuing a reasoned opinion, the second stage in the infringement proceedings. The first case referred to Bulgaria’s failure to comply with “certain obligations” under Regulation (EU) 2021/784 on the dissemination of terrorist content online.

In the other case, the EC said that Bulgaria did not comply with reporting obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Directive 2008/56/EC), which aims to achieve a good environmental status of the EU’s seas and oceans while ensuring that their resources are managed sustainably.

The reasoned opinions give Bulgaria two months to respond, or the Commission could further escalate the cases by referring them to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the final stage in the infringement process.

(European Commission headquarters Berlaymont building. Photo: JLogan)

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