EC to Help Bulgaria Fulfil Recommendations on Judicial Reform

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | February 16, 2016, Tuesday // 19:26
Bulgaria: EC to Help Bulgaria Fulfil Recommendations on Judicial Reform

The European Commission is ready to provide technical expertise to help Bulgaria reform its judicial system, the country’s Justice Ministry has said.

The announcement was made after a meeting between Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and Mary McCarthy, Director in the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) at the European Commisssion in Sofia on Tuesday.

Zaharieva and McCarthy discussed the potential providing of technical expertise by the SRSS to help Bulgaria fulfil the recommendations set out in the latest report of the European Commission under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

While Bulgaria "took some important steps to put reform back on the agenda" after a period of political instability, the translation of two strategies for reform prepared last year into "concrete and tangible progress" will be "a major challenge for 2016", the Commission said in the CVM report published last month.

Reform of the prosecution arm of the Bulgarian judiciary, drafting a new penal policy and the preparation of court-ordered reports by experts are the areas, in which the SRSS can contribute most, according to Zaharieva.

"We need a completely new penal policy drafted in line with European standards to make changes to the Penal Code, the realistic date for these changes to take place is the end of 2017," Zaharieva said, according to the statement.

To that end, the SRSS experts need to launch an analysis of the state of play in the Bulgarian judicial system no later than the middle of April 2016, Zaharieva added.

Zaharieva and McCarthy discussed the possibilities for SRSS experts to provide independent expertise in the following aspects of the work of the prosecution: accountability, transparency, workload, career development, the system for performance assessment, training and promotion. The drafting of an independent report on the work of investigation bodies within the prosecution was also identified as a possible area of cooperation.

Mary McCarthy said that the SRSS was ready to render the required support to Bulgaria and that she would discuss the areas of concern with the representatives of the EU Member States who have already commited to assisting the drafting of an independent expert assessment.

Zaharieva and McCarthy decided to prepare a plan setting a timetable and areas of action of SRSS experts in the shortest time possible, according to the statement.

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Tags: SRSS, European Commission, Ekaterina Zaharieva, Mary McCarthy, prosecution, reform, judiciary, judicial, Bulgaria, CVM
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