Sofia Woos Brussels with Cosmetic Constitutional Change

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | March 29, 2006, Wednesday // 00:00

An ad hoc committee has approved the replacement of no more than two words in constitutional amendments, which triggered strong negative reactions from Brussels last week after their adoption in parliament at second reading.

Instead of "controlling the activities" of case proceedings, the justice minister will "monitor the organization" of the process, the committee decided. It claims the new definition rules out misinterpreting the text as interference in the justice system.

The approval of the texts comes just a day before the amendments are brought to parliament for the crucial third roll-call vote.

Euro-Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva attended the committee's meeting, but declined to comment.

Last week European Commission experts proposed the enforcement of a safeguard clause for Bulgaria in the justice and home affairs field. Brussels objected to the increased competence of the executive power against that of the judiciary, as envisaged by constitutional amendments adopted by parliament at second reading.

The European experts frowned at legislative regulations, which entitle parliament to cut short the term of Supreme Court heads with a two-third majority and give it the right to approve reports of the three supreme magistrates.

Following Brussels' negative report, Bulgaria's parliament faced an impasse, as the amendments can be put to the vote only "en block" at the third reading.

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