Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 09:05:18 AM EST
or one way how Bulgaria and Romania can get to the EU in 2007
from the diaries, with small title edit.
Ivan Todorov, also known as Doktora, was killed with 15 bullets in the head in his Porsche Cayenne. The murder occurred in downtown Sofia last month, on February 22, despite the fact that security was heightened at the time due to the visit of the Turkish president.
Todorov, 42, was the target of numerous police investigations, including goods smuggling and money laundry. His name appeared to be investigated as a mastermind of a large international network of cigarettes trafficking.
Another alleged mobster dead. Organized crime in Bulgaria is still a problem. You can view the graph (in Bulgarian) of the number of murders during the period of transition. In the last few years, the digits have doubled.
Recently there was a diary in Eurotrib on Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the EU. I believe it is appropriate time to look at the issues raised there from a somewhat different perspective.
Should Bulgaria and Romania be allowed to join the EU in 2007? Or should their accession be postponed by a year?
Much has been said about how much Bulgaria and Romania have done towards meeting the economic, political and legislative requirements for membership. I, however, would like to focus on the unfinished tasks this time. What still needs to be done? Can it be done on time? And if "done", is it really implemented?
Bulgaria and Romania will not be able to join the Union in 2007 unless the serious concerns presented in the 2005 Commission monitoring reports are resolved on time.
There are several criteria that Bulgaria and Romania need to meet before 2007 in order to be able to join the Union next year.
Most serious problems in Bulgaria and Romania:
- Public administration reform: The legislative framework is still not completed; local and regional administrations need to be strengthened in the context of decentralization.
- The justice system continues to lack accountability. Procedures are slow and cumbersome.
- Corruption: the main problem is in the weak results of the investigation and prosecution of high-level corruption cases.
- More efforts needed to stop trafficking of human beings; to improve conditions in some state institutions for children and people with disabilities.
- The effective integration of the Romas requires sustained efforts.
- Protection of intellectual and industrial property rights in the company law field.
- Veterinary control system in the internal market.
- Justice and Home Affairs: preparations for applying the Schengen acquis and for the management of the future EU external border.
- Fight against organized crime (esp. Bulgaria).
- Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments.
- Romania: Improvement of the administrative capacity in the taxation area is needed. Notably the slow pace of achieving IT system interoperability.
- Industrial pollution and overall administrative capacity in the field of environment (esp. Romania).
Before dealing with all this on time, no accession would be possible in 2007.
What is the case in Bulgaria in particular?
Open Society Institute issued a Citizen monitoring report at the end of January, which shows what has been achieved since the European Commission report of October last year.
The citizen monitoring was directed to the five fields, which the European Commission had identified as most troublesome: agriculture, justice and home affairs, company law, freedom to provide services and regional policy. The pace of implementation suggests that all measures can be implemented on time. As a whole, 2/3 of the measures in the five fields have been implemented or work on them is progressing. Nevertheless, closer attention has to be paid to the quality of implementation as well as the enforcement of the measures.
The report shows that Bulgaria is still behind in two very important fields: agriculture and justice and home affairs. There are not enough guarantees that quick progress will be made in these fields, so as to meet the Commission deadlines.
As of January 16, rather not implemented are 41% of the measures in chapter JHA.
More work needed on:
Over 41% of the critical measures on agriculture are being delayed or are not implemented:
- Initiation of amendments and supplements to the Constitution
- Adoption of an Act on the Ministry of the Interior, which regulates criminal police
- Development and adoption of an Integrated Border Management Strategy
- Implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption with a focus on measures taken to curb high-level corruption
- Meetings with the Supreme Judicial Council and other key judicial system institutions to discuss the implementation of a strict criminal justice policy against organized crime and corruption.
- A Framework law on the activities of the Paying Agency and the application of information system for administrative control, IACS, which is directly linked to identification of agriculture land, the implementation of the milk quotas, and the registration of processing enterprises
- Building of long-term veterinary border inspection posts.
- Restructuring of companies in the processing industry. Delay in animal legislation, and in the registration and preparation of animal farms
Reforms are on the go. But can all this be done on time?
On March 1, the Bulgarian government approved an important document: "The Bulgarian Contribution to the Monitoring Report of the European Commission." The report highlights all measures adopted by Sofia for the last four months in order to meet the Commission requirements.
Much has been achieved. True. But a lot still needs to be done. And in order for Bulgaria to be able to join next year, serious and immediate steps need to be taken.
Bulgaria hopes to get a good grade with its new law on amendment of the Constitution, improvement of the system for management of the court lawsuits, the magistrate trainings, and the accusations of corruption of high-level officials.
For the Judiciary, a new random case assignment system in courts was introduced. It will guarantee that judges go over cases impartially. Moreover, the integration of the common system for management of cases started. The system will allow for quicker inspection of lawsuits.
In the fight against corruption, 35 suits against higher representatives of the state authorities were launched. They include suits against the former mayor of Sofia, Stefan Sofiyanski, and the former main architect of the capital, Stoyan Yanev.
But is this enough? And how many of the measures taken are truly working?
On May 17, the Commission will declare its opinion. By then, Romania and Bulgaria will try to shovel their way through.
Will they be able to do it?