The European Commission (EC) published interim progress reports Friday (February 18th) on Bulgaria and Romania in the field of judiciary and interior affairs within the so-called Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. The reports conclude that the two countries have made progress in judicial reform and fighting corruption but must make more efforts to meet benchmarks.
The EC praised Bulgaria’s efforts to reform the judiciary, customs agency and police and urged the country to maintain its momentum. The report recommends Bulgarian authorities focus on passing an effective law on seizing illegally acquired assets, establish an authority dealing with conflict of interest issues and continue fighting high-level corruption. The report also applauded the recent decision to launch a large scale anti-corruption project. As for the recent wiretapping scandal that involved a number of government officials, the EC called for stricter respect for the rule of law when applying special investigative means.
In the report on Romania, the EC criticised the slow trials in cases involving high-level corruption and called for the consolidation of anti-corruption measures. It urged Romania to launch an independent review of the judicial system and strengthen general anti-corruption strategies. Still, the Commission notes that Romania responded constructively to recommendations in the previous report. The next EC assessment is due in the summer.