US Congressional Research Service Comes out with Report on Bulgaria
After 12 years of near-continuous rule under Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), Bulgaria experienced a period of uncertainty following parliamentary elections held on April4, 2021.The fragmented results of the parliamentary elections though make it difficult to form a government.
The next government faces an array of policy challenges, including mitigating the health and economic impacts of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, addressing public pressure to tackle corruption and organized crime, and managing Bulgaria’s external relations amid escalating tensions in the Black Sea region.
Corruption, organized crime, and rule-of-law challenges intensified during Bulgaria’s turbulent economic and political transition in the 1990s. Due to concern that these issues had not been fully addressed at the time of Bulgaria’s EU accession in 2007, Brussels continues to monitor the country’s reform progress through a transitional Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
During the 1990s and 2000s, the United States provided significant financial assistance and diplomatic support for Bulgaria’s domestic transition and integration into NATO and the EU. The United States and Bulgaria continue to have good relations and cooperate on various issues. Members of Congress may be interested in Black Sea and energy security issues relating to Bulgaria.
The United States and Bulgaria also cooperate on capacitybuilding programs to confront additional security threats. Bulgaria is located along the EU’s external border and in a major transit region for illicit trafficking in persons, arms, narcotics, and contraband. The European migration and refugee crisis, which peaked in 2015, and concern over returning terrorist fightersin transit to Europe have underscored Bulgaria’s importance to European security. As part of NATO’s renewed focus on defending the alliance’s eastern flank, in 2016, the allies approved a tailored Forward Presence in southeastern Europe, including a Romanian-led multinational brigade. Bulgarian officials supported the initiative overall but objected to a Romanian proposal for a NATO Black Sea fleet. Foreign Assistance Since Bulgaria’s 2007 EU accession, most U.S. assistance has targeted security issues, including modernizing the Bulgarian military and increasing its interoperability with NATO forces, among other priorities. Since 2016, the United States has provided over $160 million in security assistance to Bulgaria.
These are the highlights of the report by Sarah Garding, an analyst on European affairs. Her analysis was prepared for the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as a non-partisan shared staff to assist committees and members of Congress. It operates only on the orders and under the direction of Congress.
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