EU proposes end of corruption monitoring for Bulgaria, slams Romania
The European Commission proposed ending a 12-year corruption and judiciary monitoring mechanism for Bulgaria, while slamming neighbouring Romania for a lack of progress.
The two countries have been under EU scrutiny since joining the bloc in 2007 amid concerns over the rule of law. Neither has been granted membership of the EU's passport-free Schengen area.
Bulgaria has achieved "sufficient" progress in ensuring judicial independence and fighting high-level corruption and organised crime, the Commission said Tuesday. Even so, dozens of investigations over two years into high-ranking politicians have yet to bring about meaningful convictions.
The country – the EU's poorest – still ranks worst among the bloc's members in Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
"Bulgaria will need to continue working consistently on translating the commitments reflected in this report into concrete legislation and on continued implementation," the Commission said. "Bulgaria will need to monitor the continued implementation of the reform with a newly-established post-monitoring council."
A final decision to end the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), the Commission will consult with the European Council – made up of the heads of state or government of all member states – and the European Parliament.
Romania – which is fourth in the corruption index, ahead of Hungary and Greece – was criticized for controversial changes to criminal legislation approved by the outgoing government.
After former ruling-party leader Liviu Dragnea was jailed in May, outgoing Prime Minister Viorica Dancila vowed to halt the changes but wouldn't reverse measures already approved.
Separately, the Commission gave a green light to Croatia joining the Schengen area, though its entry still requires sign-off by the European Council.
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