2022 Rule of Law Report Country Chapter on the rule of law situation in Bulgaria Accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 2022 Rule of Law Report The rule of law situation in the European Union
staff working document
Subject headingsCooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) ; Anti-Corruption Commission ; Recovery and Resilience Plan ; Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP)
Reforms in Bulgaria in the area of justice and anti-corruption were first followed by the Commission under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) and are currently monitored under the Rule of Law Mechanism. The Government has committed, in the context of the Bulgarian Recovery and Resilience Plan, to establish an effective mechanism for the accountability and criminal liability of the Prosecutor General and his/her deputies, as well as a judicial review of prosecutorial decisions not to open an investigation. This would address longstanding concerns referred in the previous editions of the Rule of Law Report and in the CVM. There are increasing concerns related to the functioning of the Supreme Judicial Council and the need to address its composition is all the more important. Concerns related to the Inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council remain. The absence of regular competition for the promotion of magistrates, combined with an extensive use of secondments, risks to affect the independence of magistrates. A legislative reform has abolished the specialised judicial authorities, while providing for the reappointment of the relevant magistrates to ordinary courts and prosecution offices, with safeguards to protect judicial independence and procedural rights. Challenges remain in the area of digitalisation of justice. Administrative justice continues to perform well in terms of efficiency.
Number of pages32p.
DescriptionSWD(2022) 502 final
RECOMMENDATIONS In addition to recalling the commitments made under the national Recovery and Resilience Plan relating to certain aspects of the justice system and the anti-corruption framework and the remaining commitments under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, it is recommended to Bulgaria to: • Ensure timely ordinary competitions for promotion to avoid long-term secondment of judges to fill in vacant positions, taking into account European standards on secondment of judges. • Advance with the legislative amendments aiming at improving the functioning of the Inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council and avoiding the risk of political influence, in particular by involving judicial bodies in the selection of its members. • Take steps to adapt the composition of the Supreme Judicial Council, taking into account European standards on Councils for the Judiciary. • Continue the implementation of measures to improve the integrity of the specific sectors of the public administration, including measures tailored to the police and the judiciary. • Ensure that the institutional reforms of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the specialised judicial authorities lead to an improved effectiveness of investigations and a robust track-record of prosecution and final judgments in high-level corruption cases. • Improve transparency in the allocation of state advertising, in particular with regard to state advertising contracted through intermediaries, such as media agencies.