The European Commission yesterday (22 January) issued reports on Bulgaria and Romania that make clear that neither country has succeeded in allaying the Commission’s concerns about corruption, the quality of policing and the independence of the judiciary.
The report on Bulgaria notes “a few steps forward” since the Commission’s last report in mid-2012, but describes progress as “not sufficient” and “fragile”. “This report shows that in Bulgaria there is a need to galvanise the forces in favour of reform and provide leadership,” said the Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso (pictured).
By contrast, Barroso said that Romania had “taken some significant steps” since the last review, last January. “Many people in the key judicial and integrity institutions have shown a real commitment to reform,” he stated.
The Commission hinted clearly that it is concerned about the politicisation of public services, saying that both countries had not ensured that appointments were “professional, merit-based and transparent”.
Click Here: Cheap Chiefs Rugby Jersey 2019
The reports are unlikely to strengthen the two countries’ argument that the Commission should review, and possibly, discontinue the ‘control and verification mechanism’ established to ensure that they continued with reforms begun before they joined the European Union in 2007. A Commission spokesman said that a decision on the future of the monitoring process would be left to the next college of European commissioners, due in November.
In 2012, the Commission was considering ending systematic oversight, but a constitutional crisis in Romania prompted it to continue reviews of both countries, with more frequent appraisals of Romania than of Bulgaria.
In a role reversal, the latest report is notably more critical of Bulgaria and argues that a period of political flux – there have been three governments in the past 18 months and daily protests since June – has contributed to a failure to make significant progress in policing, the judiciary and the civil service. Progress in reforming institutions has yet to produce “real evidence of results”, a spokesman said.
The Commission also expressed concern about a new attempt, launched in December, to revise Romania’s constitution that would, among other changes, reduce the power of the next president. Elections will be held in November.
The shortcomings of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s reforms have contributed to other member states’ refusal to allow them to join the Schengen zone of passport-free travel.
The Commission again urged member states not to link the two processes, saying that the two countries had fully met requirements for membership of the Schengen zone.