EU Urges Bulgaria to Adopt New Anti-Corruption Laws
Bulgaria needs "a new legal framework" on the fight against corruption, changes to public administration legislation, and establish a mechanism for public reporting on high-level cases under investigation, the European Commission believes.
In the recommendations section of its report on Bulgaria, done under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), the EU's executive body suggests the General Prosecution should "report - whilst respecting the presumption of innocence - on investigations and indictments."
In particular, a "fresh approach" will be required from Bulgarian authorities to address Benchmark Four - or high-level corruption.
Similarly, a mechanism is needed "for reporting on the implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy" in relation to corruption at a local level and at the borders.
The Commission advises Bulgarian authorities to conduct "an external review of the ex ante checks of public procurement procedures and their follow-up."
The judiciary for its part "should ensure a transparent election for the future [Supreme Judicial Council; the vote is due later in 2017], with a public hearing in the National Assembly before the election of the members of the parliamentary quota, and giving civil society the possibility to make observations on the candidates."
A track record is needed of "transparent and merit-based appointments to high–level judicial posts, including the upcoming appointment of a new President of the Supreme Administrative Court."
The Inspectorate of the council, on the other hand, needs an improvement of its practical functioning and should "consider soliciting external assistance."
As regards the Chief Prosecutor - who has been at the center of a years-long debate due to his overarching powers - the Commision urges authorities to "establish a roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations of the SRSS report concerning the reform of the Prosecutor's Office and its interactions with other institutions," in an apparent reference to possible political interference.
The Criminal Procedure Code and the Criminal Code should be amended "to improve the legal framework for the prosecution of high-level corruption and serious organised crime".
Authorities also have to address the "workload situation in the busiest courts" and "agree a roadmap for the reform of the judicial map in parallel with the development of e-justice."
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