The Commission issued today its latest report in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) applied to Bulgaria. After 10 years of the CVM, the Commission took stock of steps taken by Bulgaria on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime, the achievements, the outstanding challenges and the steps still needed to end the CVM.
First Vice-President Timmermans said, "In the past ten years Bulgaria has made important progress in carrying out CVM reforms, in particular as concerns legislative and institutional developments in judicial matters. With the additional significant progress made last year, the momentum built up so far allows the focus to shift to the key remaining steps which need to be taken to reach the CVM objectives and therefore to complete this important process on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime under this Commission mandate, in line with the goal set by President Juncker. The speed of this depends on how quickly the Bulgarian authorities are able to take the identified remaining steps in an irreversible way, in a way that does not call into question the progress made so far."
The Commission's 2015 and 2016 CVM reports acknowledged important steps taken by the Bulgarian authorities to put the reform process back on the agenda. The 2017 Report shows that Bulgaria made additional significant progress in the implementation of the judicial reform strategy. Implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy still remains in an early stage. In the past 10 years, overall progress has not been as fast as hoped for, and a number of challenges remain to be addressed. The new government will need to drive reform forward to secure irreversible results. The Commission also considers that CVM should not be linked to other areas of EU law.
The Commission at this stage cannot yet conclude that the benchmarks are satisfactorily fulfilled. However, it is possible to identify a number of key recommendations to lead to the conclusion of the CVM process. The conclusion of the CVM process under this Commission's mandate, the objective set by President Juncker, depends on how quickly Bulgaria is able to fulfil the recommendations set out in this report, in an irreversible way.
The Commission considers that the CVM objectives can be achieved by following up the recommendations set out in this report. The Commission will work closely with the Bulgarian authorities and provide support where needed, and will assess progress made towards the end of 2017.
On 1 January 2007, the Commission established the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism to assess progress against the commitments made by Bulgaria in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The Commission reports on progress in these areas on a regular basis. The Commission issued its first report on 27 June 2007. The reports contain the Commission's assessment and recommendations to the Bulgarian authorities, and are complemented by a staff working document which sets out a detailed analysis against each of the benchmarks of the CVM.
The Commission analyses measures taken by the Bulgarian authorities, drawing on continuous dialogue between the Bulgarian authorities and the Commission services. The reports have also benefitted from contacts with Member States, civil society, international organisations, independent experts and a variety of other sources. The Commission's conclusions and the methodology of the CVM have consistently enjoyed the strong support of the Council of Ministers.
The previous CVM report was published on 27 January 2016. This new report concerns the period since then, as well as an overall review of progress during the 10 years in which the CVM has been in place. The next formal report is likely to come towards the end of 2017.
For more information: