Brussels, 18.2.2011 COM(2011) 81 final
INTERIM REPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL On Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism
INTERIM REPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL On Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation andVerification Mechanism
INTRODUCTION When Bulgaria entered the EU on 1 January 2007, a Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (hereafter CVM)1 was set up to help Bulgaria remedy shortcomings in the areas of judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organised crime and to monitor progress in these areas through periodical reports. The present report is an interim report providing atechnical update on significant developments having occurred during the last six months in Bulgaria under the CVM. It focuses on Bulgaria's response to the Commission's recommendations and does not contain a full assessment on progress achieved. The update is limited to measures that have either been completed or where their finalisation can be expected shortly. The last progress report adoptedby the Commission on 20 July 2010 and its recommendations remain the point of reference for the assessment of progress achieved against the benchmarks and the identification of the remaining challenges. The Commission will provide its next assessment in summer 2011.
JUDICIAL REFORM AND THE FIGHT CRIME: SUMMARY OF DEVELOPMENTS
Since theCommission's last report, Bulgaria continued legal reform and adopted important amendments to the Judicial Systems Act. These amendments provide the legal basis to further implement the judicial reform strategy, to strengthen the accountability and management powers of the Supreme Judicial Council and to improve the system of appointments, professional training, appraisal and promotions in thejudiciary. During this period, the Supreme Judicial Council has developed a better disciplinary track record. In one important appointment decision however, the Council did not demonstrate the necessary commitment to accountability and transparency. In the last six months, Bulgaria decided to create a specialised court for cases related to organised crime. The structural reform of the customs agencycontinued and an ambitious anti-corruption project started. Bulgaria also adopted amendments to strengthen the law on Conflict of Interest which establishes an independent body to identify and sanction conflict of interest in a pro-active manner.
Commission Decision 2006/929/EC of 13 December 2006 establishing a mechanism for cooperation and verification of progress in Bulgaria to addressspecific benchmarks in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime (OJ L 354, 14.12.2006, p. 58).
During this period, courts registered an increased number of indictments and verdicts in high-level corruption cases. 3. OUTLOOK Since the Commission's last assessment, Bulgaria has maintained its commitment to continue to implement its judicialreform strategy through a detailed action plan. In order to maintain its momentum of reform, Bulgaria should continue to focus on the national judicial reform strategy and pursue a thorough reform of the judicial system and of the police. This requires steps to further improve judicial practice and a continued improvement of the way the judiciary, police and other investigative bodies are structured,managed and cooperate. Until the Commission's next assessment in summer 2011, Bulgaria should also focus on the adoption of an effective law on asset forfeiture, the establishment of an authority to identify and sanction conflicts of interest and on the track record in corruption cases and organised crime. The Commission will continue to support Bulgaria in this endeavour and provide its next...