EU to issue harsh reports on Bulgaria, Romania
(SOFIA) - The European Commission will issue on Wednesday two deeply critical reports about Bulgaria and Romania's lack of progress in fighting crime and corruption, Bulgarian media reported.
The assessments under the European Union's cooperation and verification mechanism applied to the two countries when they joined the bloc in 2007 will sum up judicial and law enforcement reforms five years on.
Insufficient results will prompt Brussels to propose to keep the monitoring mechanism in place for both countries, albeit with certain changes of procedure, Bulgarian media reported Tuesday.
A preliminary copy of the report obtained by the Trud newspaper and state BNT television said organised crime groups remained a fundamental challenge to Bulgaria's progress.
"They exercise a considerable influence over economic activities in the country -- the annual turnover of the 12 most influential criminal structures is 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion)," according to excerpts of the report published in Trud.
"From an economic perspective, this restricts competition and deters foreign investment. It also gives these groups a platform from which to influence the political process and state institutions," the report added.
Out of 77 key court cases monitored by Brussels, only 16 have ended with sentences, including 10 where all or part of the defendants were acquitted, Trud said.
The draft report also said Bulgaria did not always respect key principles such as the independence of its judicary.
The report about Romania said the government moves to impeach President Traian Basescu "raise serious alarm with regard to observing the key principles (of democracy)," Trud said.
"The political challenges to court rulings, the undermining of the constitutional court, the reversal of established procedures and the suppression of key elements of democratic control put under question the engagement of the government to respect the supremacy of the law and the independent judicial supervision," it added.
"The current contradictions put under serious threat the progress achieved so far and raise serious doubts about the future of the reforms," the report on Romania said.
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