Judicial Reform: EU Commission VP Hails Bulgaria's Call for 'Help on the Ground'

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | January 27, 2016, Wednesday // 17:50
Bulgaria: Judicial Reform: EU Commission VP Hails Bulgaria's Call for 'Help on the Ground' EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans. File photo, EPA/BGNES

EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans has said Bulgaria has proved its commitment to judicial reform with the PM Boyko Borisov's call for assistance "on the ground" from EU experts.

"The fact that he wants external assistance means people from outside will come to Bulgaria to help Bulgarian authorities and then the need to implement cannot be evaded," he has told the Bulgarian National Radio.

His remarks come as the European Commission has unveiled its report on Bulgaria's state of the judiciary and its effort to fight corruption and organized crime, prepared annually under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The report highlighted the country's progress in some areas but also noted 2016 will be the time to put into practice the reform strategies prepared over the previous year.

"We will closely monitor [the process], we will continue to write reports. I want evidence on the ground, instead of speaking about deadlines and goals. I am confident that with the new approach and with the experts on the ground the progress deserved by the Bulgarian people will be achieved."

Asked whether Bulgaria and Romania are going separate ways, with the report on Romania (also published Wednesday) being much more positive, Timmermans has denied, but has added the two countries are "on different stages" due to Bulgaria's political crisis of 2013-2014.

Timmermans has also voiced his confidence that Sofia will be able to "catch up" and that it is still possible for the oversight mechanism to be dropped by the end of this commission college's term in 2019.

The mechanism was set up at the accession of Bulgaria to the EU in 2007. It was agreed that further work was needed in key areas to address shortcomings in judicial reform, the fight against corruption, and tackling organised crime.

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Tags: Frans Timmermans, CVM, judicial reform, Bulgaria, Romania
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