GRECO: 'Bulgaria Has Implemented Satisfactorily 12 of the 19 Recommendations'
In view of the foregoing, GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption) concludes that Bulgaria has implemented satisfactorily twelve of the nineteen recommendations contained in the Fourth Round Evaluation Report. Of the remaining recommendations, six have been partly implemented and one has not been implemented.
The document was adopted at its 75th plenary session, which took place in Strasbourg from 19 to 23 June.
Of the other recommendations, six are partially implemented and one is not implemented, the report said. Bulgaria has not complied with the recommendation according to which ''GRECO recommended that the application of supplementary remuneration within the judiciary be subject to clear, objective and transparent criteria.''
''As regards the legislative process, a framework has been created for the involvement of civil society in the legislative process with the setting up of the Public Council, within the National Assembly, composed of civil society representatives, to facilitate public consultation, as well as the requirement for MPs to substantiate their proposals for amendments. In addition, the timeline for the examination of draft laws has been extended so as to allow for more time for interested parties to engage in the examination of bills in parliamentary committees at first and second readings'', according to the report.
A procedure has been put in place to tackle breaches of ethical rules by MPs, with a parliamentary committee being able to impose sanctions in case of infringements. Further, an independent review into the prevention of conflicts of interest and verification of asset declaration of MPs has been carried out and has informed the 18 preparation of the draft Law on the Prevention of Corruption and Forfeiture of Illegal Assets on these two issues. However, this bill is still to be adopted.
Insofar as judges and prosecutors are concerned, Bulgaria has taken a number of steps to implement GRECO’s recommendations, some of which have been completed whilst others are still in progress. The structure of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has been modified through amendments to the Constitution with the creation of the Judges College and the Prosecutors College, as way of avoiding that one profession influences career-related decisions regarding the other.
That said, it is to be regretted that representatives elected by the National Assembly are members of both colleges and even more so that their number equals that of elected judges and prosecutors in both colleges, preventing the elimination of any risk of undue political influence on the careers of judges and prosecutors. 107. As to integrity checks of judges and prosecutors, additional rules have been laid down, with practical tools and methodology being finalised.
Further, additional checks have been introduced, in particular through regular asset declarations. The principle of random case allocation has been put in place in respect of both judges and prosecutors. Steps have been taken to strengthen both initial and on-going training of judges and prosecutors on corruption matters.
An assessment of the effectiveness of the supervision and enforcement of integrity standards of the judiciary has been undertaken, and the SJC Inspectorate has been given additional powers of verifications over judges’ and prosecutors’ asset declarations and conflict of interest declarations, with the Judges College and Prosecutors College being able to undertake disciplinary proceedings. Some steps remain nonetheless to be taken and, for instance, the five-year term before judges acquiring life tenure needs to be significantly reduced. 108. In view of the above, GRECO notes that further significant material progress is necessary to demonstrate an acceptable level of compliance with the recommendations within the next 18 months.
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