EU Commission announced 4 Criminal Procedures against Bulgaria
The European Commission announced today four criminal proceedings against Bulgaria in the areas of money laundering, the fight against fraud with EU funds, air quality and maritime safety.
Brussels has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria for failing to remove obstacles to access to justice in relation to air quality plans.
The Ambient Air Quality Directive requires that, when the limit values set by EU legislation are exceeded, Member States adopt air quality plans and define appropriate measures so that the periods of exceedance are as short as possible.
The directive and the Aarhus Convention, to which the EU and all Member States are parties, require that directly affected people and environmental organizations have the right to request public authorities to draw up an air quality plan and to challenge air quality plans and their content before national courts. Bulgaria has not guaranteed that environmental protection organizations or individuals and legal entities have the right to appeal to national courts. This option ensures that they can challenge the lack of air quality plans or their inability to deal with air pollution.
In May 2020, the Commission sent an official notification letter to Bulgaria. Furthermore, a final national court decision in 2021 upheld the practice of denying access to justice in relation to air quality plans.
Today, the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria, which has two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, it may decide to refer the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Fight against fraud
The European Commission has decided to initiate infringement proceedings by sending an official letter of formal notice to Bulgaria because it has not correctly implemented the EU rules on combating fraud affecting the Union's financial interests under criminal law. The rules protect the EU budget by harmonizing the definitions, sanctions and jurisdiction rules related to fraud and other crimes affecting the EU's financial interests. The Commission identified several problems with compliance in Bulgaria, as well as in Poland, in the definition of certain crimes and related criminal sanctions, as well as the liability of legal entities for crimes committed for their benefit.
Bulgaria has two months to take measures. If there is no satisfactory answer, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
The European Commission sends a reasoned opinion to Bulgaria due to non-compliance with EU rules on marine equipment.
The relevant directive includes general rules for the safety of equipment such as life jackets, sewage treatment systems or radars on board ships flying the flag of an EU country, with the aim also of preventing their counterfeiting. It creates a market surveillance mechanism that gives Member States the responsibility to ensure that marine equipment does not pose a risk to maritime safety, health or the environment. Bulgaria does not adequately supervise the marine equipment market on board the ships for which it is responsible. In October 2019, the Commission sent an official notification letter to Bulgaria. As Bulgaria has not yet reported any market surveillance activities, it decided to issue a reasoned opinion. Bulgaria has two months to respond and take the necessary measures or risk being sued.
The European Commission has decided to send an official letter of notification to Bulgaria due to the incorrect transposition into its legislation of the fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
Bulgaria has notified the full transposition of the directive, but the Commission found several cases of incorrect transposition (non-compliance) of the directive into national legislation.
They concern, among others, key aspects such as: the obligation to register, license or regulate service providers (i.e. under national law trust or company management service providers are neither licensed nor subject to registration); the lack of a mechanism to resolve inconsistencies in the information provided by the national register of beneficial owners (the register that states who actually owns what); the correct application of the concepts of "establishment" or "residence" for entities that are obliged to provide information on beneficial owners.
The European Commission notes that legislative gaps in one member state have an impact on the EU as a whole.
If Bulgaria does not provide a satisfactory answer within two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.
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