The European Commission said on May 19 that it was advancing the infringement proceedings against Bulgaria in three existing cases and opened a new infringement proceeding as part of its latest infringements package.
The new case concerned Bulgaria’s failure to “ensure correct implementation of Directive (EU) 2014/89 on Maritime Spatial Planning,” the EC said.
Specifically, Sofia had failed to draft and submit a maritime spatial plan – meant to “organise human activities in marine areas so as to meet various ecological, economic and social objectives” – before the March 31 2021 deadline.
Maritime policy is an area where Bulgaria has lagged behind in implementing EU regulations before, forcing the Commission to refer the country to the European Court of Justice.
The letter of formal notice gives Bulgaria two months to respond, or the Commission could escalate the case by sending a reasoned opinion, the second stage in the infringement proceedings.
That is the case in three ongoing cases, where Bulgaria has failed to provide a satisfactory response, prompting the Commission to step up the infringement proceedings.
The cases refer to Bulgaria’s failure to communicate whether it has transposed EU rules on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment into national law, the lack of notification of national measures to transpose the European Electronic Tolling Service (EETS) Directive, as well as the failure to notify the Commission of transposition measures on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market.
In one other existing case, the Commission opted to send a second letter of formal notice, rather than a reasoned opinion, requiring additional clarification as to why Bulgaria is yet to implement the new card format for residence permits for non-EU nationals, in line with Regulation (EC) 1030/2002.
That regulation was updated in 2017 to introduce a new card format for residence permits with upgraded security features that rely on biometric data, but Bulgaria has not started issuing such permits, even though it was required to do so by July 10 2020.