EU Commission Assesses Bulgarian Efforts on Judicial Reform as Satisfactory
Bulgarian Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov revealed on Wednesday that the European Commission (EC) had assessed the efforts of the Bulgarian government on the judicial reform as satisfactory.
The Commission noted that the adoption of the constitutional amendments and the parliamentary support for the proposed changes will be a sign whether there is a political will for continuation of the reforms.
This was presented at the oral review on the progress Bulgaria has made on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) since the last report, which was issued at the end of January.
After five years of monitoring, the EC decided to publish reports only once annually – in the beginning of the year and to make an oral review in the summer.
The Commission noted that the reform of the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) and its foreseen division is of key importance for increasing the confidence in the judicial system.
The reform of VSS foresees its division into two chambers – one of judges and another of prosecutors, decreasing their term of office and the removal of the secret ballot.
The constitutional amendments will be subjected to voting in parliament next week, with the minimum number of votes required for their adoption at first reading being 160.
Among the other findings of the oral assessment was the lack of advance on the new organisational model of the prosecutor's office.
As regards the prosecution, the Commission noted that the prosecutor's office has no capacity to effectively investigate corruption among high-level officials.
There was also lack of progress in bringing cases concerning organised crime to a successful end in the court.
VSS is criticised on failing to deal with the problems surrounding the random allocation of cases, the work of the ethic committee and the ineffective disciplinary proceedings.
The EC assessed as a positive step the election of Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) chair, finalising the election of chief judicial inspector and the adoption of the government's anti-corruption strategy.
The Commission expressed hope that the proposed bill on fight against high-level corruption will be adopted without significant amendments.
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