Bulgaria needs to step up reforms in order to reach the rule of law objectives, the European Commission said on Wednesday upon the release of its annual report on the country's progress in the area of judicial reform, the fight against corruption and the fight against organised crime.
"[The report's] main conclusion is that deeper implementation of reforms is needed in order for the process to become irreversible," the European Commission said in a press release. The report on progress made by Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) covers a period of five years since Bulgaria's accession to the EU in 2007.
"The laws are in place, now it will be important to assure their implementation. Bulgaria has made relevant progress and can reach the objectives of the CVM, but it needs to show more ownership of reform and work together more effectively than in the past. Convincing results still need to be shown in the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime so that the concerns of Bulgarian citizens and Bulgaria's European partners can be met," European Commission President Manuel Barroso said in the press release.
According to the European Commission, Bulgaria has achieved progress with the adoption of the basic legislative framework and the creation of important new institutions. It noted that the country has set up an independent judicial inspectorate and created specialised structures at the level of police and the prosecution to pursue organised crime. Asset forfeiture legislation has been improved and a body to follow-up on conflicts of interest has been created.
The Commission recommended that Bulgaria focus on filling the remaining gaps in this legal and institutional framework and concentrate on implementing recently adopted legislation.
Complaints concerning the Bulgarian public procurement system continue to grow, and there are clear cases of serious violations of EU procurement rules which the national control system cannot either detect, or treat in appropriate manner, the Commission said in the report. The most common violations are related to the direct and indirect discrimination of bidders, equal treatment, transparency and direct award of contracts without tendering procedures.