The European Commission (EC) said on Tuesday that it mulls concluding the monitoring of Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) due to the country's 'sufficient progress' in meeting its commitments regarding the mechanism.
Over the past years, Bulgaria has shown an impressive progress in implementing the recommendations of the Commission and despite some challenges still in the way, such as the implementation of some necessary reforms, the country's progress up to date is sufficient enough for the Commission to consider ending monitoring under the CVM, the president of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement following the adoption of the latest report on steps taken by Bulgaria to meet its commitments.
The Commission's report looks at the progress made over the past year to meet the final 17 recommendations issued by the Commission in its January 2017 report. It positively notes that Bulgaria has worked consistently on the implementation of these recommendations.
"Bulgaria will need to continue working consistently on translating the commitments reflected in this report into concrete legislation and on continued implementation. Bulgaria will need to monitor the continued implementation of the reform with a newly-established post-monitoring council, and that will feed into the future dialogue with the Commission in the framework of the comprehensive EU rule of law mechanism," the Commission said.
Even after the CVM for Bulgaria has been ended, both the internal post-monitoring and the EU-wide mechanism should support sustainability and irreversibility of reforms, the EU's executive body noted.
Before taking a final decision on whether to terminate monitoring under the CVM, the Commission will also take duly into account the observations of the Council and the European Parliament, it said.
Last year, the Commission expressed its expectation that the monitoring for Bulgaria under the CVM could be concluded in 2019 in line with the timeframe set by Juncker in 2014. Three of a total of six benchmarks - judicial independence, legislative framework and organised crime, can be considered provisionally closed, a number of others are very close to implementation but in some cases developments are ongoing, the Commission said at the time.
The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was established at the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union in 2007 as a transitional measure to facilitate the country's continued efforts to reform its judiciary and step up the fight against corruption and organised crime. In line with the decision setting up the mechanism and as underlined by the Council, the CVM ends when all the benchmarks applying to Bulgaria are satisfactorily met.