The first days of January are the strangest time of the year. The sense of happiness has gone up in smoke and drinks and you are standing on the brink of the unknown.
But the first week of this year was particularly strange. For the first time since Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1, 2007, I felt the memory of the joyful event fading into oblivion.
In the run-up to its EU membership, the prospect and process of accession instilled discipline in the governments and the institutions they previously lacked.
One year after accession, Bulgaria was failing to make much-needed reforms because of the lack of discipline, because the government and the institutions had started to relax.
Six years after accession, Bulgaria has completely lost sensitivity to Brussels and rulers hardly notice the criticism coming from there.
The scandals in the judicial system, which flared up at the end of last year, came as just another worrying signal that the country has not managed to put its house in order and does not care much what the European Commission thinks.
To top it all off, EC decided last July that the next monitoring report would be published by the end of 2013. Normally under the CVM mechanism reports are published twice a year, in summer and winter.
Thus Brussels's love for Bulgaria is not tough enough and the Balkan country can afford to be brazen enough to move to its own beat and follow its own agenda.
True, with or without reports Brussels is unable to exert much pressure on Bulgaria, but at least monitoring reports raise the alarm and keep politicians on the alert.
Now the odds are that the "sticking points" in the justice area will remain to the chagrin not only of Bulgarians, but of other Europeans.
Small wonder other EU member states are pushing Bulgaria into the sidelines. Thus everybody is happy, except the Bulgarian people.
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