Bulgaria 'Risks Being Decoupled from Romania' in Schengen Monitoring
Bulgaria is facing a serious threat of lagging further behind Romania after a "very critical" report from the EU Commission this month, a co-leader of the junior coalition partner Reformist Bloc believes.
Radan Kanev, who co-heads the RB, belives the situation in Bulgaria's judiciary could result in quite a "negative" report under the EU Commission's Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (CVM).
In Kanev's words, Romania has marked "huge" success in fighting corruption, while Bulgaria is either lacking anti-corruption policies or is displaying the reverse trend.
"Even if this risk does not come true, we have to come to terms with the fact this will be out of pity, a gesture to the new government of Bulgaria. If we are not formally decoupled, this should not be perceived as a big victory, because victory is whether or not you have beat corruption."
Officials from the Reformist Bloc, including Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov (who was appointed from the bloc's quota) insist on carrying out reforms in the judiciary. Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva has repeatedly warned of the perilous impact such decoupling could have.
The opposition, alongside various media outlets and experts, are however skeptical of the process, describing the ongoing disputes in the judiciary as infighting of various lobbies.
In order to be part of the Schengen areas of countries with no border control, a country has to show it is prepared enough in terms of air-border security, visas, police cooperation and personal data protection. For both Bulgaria and Romania, efforts to tackle corruption and organized crime and to pursue judicial reform have been prerequisites for joining since the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (CVM) was introduced by the Commission in 2006.
Some EU officials however opine that CVM reports should not be a precondition for a country to join the Schengen area.
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