The European Commission has repeated its now-traditional calls on Bulgaria and Romania to step up the fight against corruption, but it rejects any link with the two countries’ bid to join the European Union’s Schengen area.
In monitoring reports due to be published today (20 July), the Commission lists major shortcomings in the judiciary in each country, although it commends both governments on their efforts to combat corruption and organised crime. An official stated that the reports are “not an analysis of the preparedness” for joining Schengen, the area of border-free travel. “These are two totally separate analyses,” the official said.
In September, national interior ministers are to discuss the two countries’ applications to join Schengen. The Dutch government, with backing from other member states, has asked that corruption, organised crime and the state of the judicial system be taken into account in the decision. It has also suggested that these issues be introduced into the peer evaluations that the Schengen members undertake of each other.
The Commission’s report notes significant steps by Romania – whose previous report was very negative – to improve its judicial system, for example in enhancing its efficiency. But it also warns that if Romania does not speed up investigations and court cases for high-level corruption, they could fall under the statute of limitations.
No credible results
Bulgaria has shown sustained political will to combat corruption and organised crime, the report says, but this has not led to credible results over the last year. The Commission calls on the country’s judiciary to show leadership.
The two countries have been subject to annual monitoring reports since joining the EU in January 2007, under a special regime known as the Verification and Co-operation Mechanism. Member states agree that post-accession monitoring has failed to work properly, and no such monitoring is foreseen for Croatia once it joins the Union, which it is expected to do in July 2013.
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