WSJ: EU Critizes Bulgaria on Judicial Reforms, Notes Progress in Romania
By Sean Carney
The Wall Street Journal
The European Commission Wednesday said Romania has made progress in reforming its judiciary and noted improving cooperation between local institutions, but warned that the independence of courts there and in neighboring Bulgaria remain an issue.
“Concerns about judicial independence remain and there are many examples of resistance to integrity and anti-corruption measures at political and administrative levels [in Romania],” the Commission, the European Union’s executive, said in its latest reports on the countries.
The Commission also said that Romanian authorities rushed an “untransparent amendment” of the Criminal Code in December 2013, sparking widespread concern on the country’s commitment to tackling corruption.
The Bulgarian government is currently working on its own Criminal Code revision that has raised concerns the government in Sofia is seeking to limit free speech and restrict democratic principles.
“In Bulgaria there is a need to galvanise the forces in favor of reform and provide leadership. Core principles like the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary must be at the heart of a long-term strategy,” the report said.
Despite Bulgaria having had three different governments last year, elected officials have yet to respond to the will of the people for an expansion of civil rights while crime often goes unpunished, the Commission said.
“There remain very few cases where crimes of corruption or organised crime have been brought to conclusion in court,” the report said.