Politico.eu: Bulgaria Lags Behind Romania in Its Efforts to Tackle Corruption
In an article published on Friday, Politico.eu notes the divergent paths Bulgaria and Romania have taken in their efforts to fight corruption, with Bucharest making progress and Sofia lagging behind.
The articles focuses on the role of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), which has made a deep impact in a country known for public malfeasance and mismanagement.
DNA indicted 1250 public officials for corruption in 2015, including former prime minister Victor Ponta, five ministers, 21 members of the bicameral parliament and the mayor of Bucharest. Furthermore, DNA ordered the seizure of EUR 500 M. Its actions have been welcomed by citizens, investors, the EU and the USA.
The article argues that the same can not be said for Bulgaria, where political instability and inability to tackle crime continue to be the norm.
According to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, Bulgaria has the highest perceived corruption among the 28 member states of the EU, while Romania has the third worst.
Both countries are subject to regular reports under the EU's Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently commending the Romanian efforts. Juncker also stated that the mechanism would be lifted by the end of his term in office in 2019.
Former Romanian Justice Minister Monica Macovei, who was instrumental in Romania's success, says that DNA should serve as an example for the countries from the region and Europe as a whole.
She adds that the success would not have likely occurred without the support of former Romanian President Traian Basescu and the pressure exerted by the EU on Romania and Bulgaria to bring their institutions to EU standards before their accession to the EU in 2007.
According to Macovei, it is not institution-building, but people that make the difference.
The articles notes that Bulgaria has not developed any anti-corruption institution with the effectiveness of Romania's DNA. Instead, an “alphabet soup of agencies have been created, sidelined and then replaced”.
Politico reminds that last year the parliament rejected the establishment of a new unit to counter high-level corruption, while recently the government adopted a draft anti-corruption law that proposes uniting four existing agencies into a single bureau.
Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva is quoted as saying that Bulgaria has not been so successful as measures have not focused on people in power and eradicating corruption at the top.
According to Politico, critics do not expect the Bulgarian anti-corruption body to have the power of Romania's DNA.
Former Bulgarian Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov, who resigned at the end of last year due to parliament failing to adopt all the constitutional amendments concerning the judicial system proposed by him, is quoted as saying that the new body will most likely be a second-tier organisation dealing with mid-level corruption.
Relying on its sources within the Bulgarian government, the article suggests that anti-corruption legislation is being undermined as MPs fear of being subject to investigation.
Read the full article here.
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