The European Commission (EC) published an eagerly awaited progress report on Bulgaria and Romania, covering the period since the two countries joined the European Union in 2007.
At that time the EC established a monitoring framework that stipulates biannual reports on how the two are meeting goals set out for them. According to the EC, Bulgaria has made a significant progress in its basic legislative framework, and its politicians have shown a strong will to push for legal reform. However, effective implementation of laws is still lacking, and there are key strategic gaps, the report adds.
Organized crime remains a huge problem, the EC reported. “Europol considers organized crime in Bulgaria as unique in the EU to the extent that it exercises considerable influence over the economy which is a platform to influence the political process and state institutions.”
Bulgarian organized crime has an estimated annual turnover of €1.8 billion (US$2.2 billion), according to the 2012 Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment study by the Bulgarian Centre for the Study of Democracy. EC adds that while the number of cases against organized crime is on the rise, “convincing results are still missing at both the pre-trial and trial phases to tackle effectively this form of criminality.”
The report praises Bulgaria for greater engagement of civil society organizations and professional associations of magistrates in the country’s judicial reform efforts. However, it stresses that the government should rely on these resources more, and intensify its cooperation with foreign partners.
According to the report, laws and the legal system require more work in Romania. The report acknowledges some improvements in the fight against corruption.
The Romanian judiciary has shown a commitment to establishing its independence. However, these improvements still fall short. The report said reforms are coming too slowly, have met with a lot of obstacles, and not all government bodies have shown the same degree of commitment .