Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

EU commission backs Bulgaria anti-corruption protests

The European Commission Tuesday (23 July) voiced support for the daily anti-corruption protests that have rattled Bulgaria over recent weeks.

EU commissioner for justice Viviane Reding at a Citizens’ Dialogue event in Sofia said she was “very much moved by the strong desire of the Bulgarian citizen to have this change, to fight for democracy, to fight against corruption.”

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Bulgarians are staging daily protests against corruption (Photo: Borislav Kiprin)

“My sympathy is with the Bulgarian citizens who are protesting on the streets against corruption,” she said.

Demonstrations in Bulgaria have been taking place every day for over month, triggered in part by the controversial nomination of Delyan Peevski, a 32-year old member of parliament with no intelligence experience, to national security chief.

Peevski’s family runs Bulgaria’s largest media outlet. The decision was later reversed in an effort to quell public uproar.

But protestors last Tuesday in Sofia gathered in front of the German embassy in an effort to gain wider recognition of their grievances among other EU member states.

They erected a make-shift ‘Berlin Wall’ in front of the embassy as a symbolic gesture of Bulgaria’s government ties with business moguls and oligarchs.

The commissioner drew similar comparisons on Tuesday when she said modern democracies and strong economies are “incompatible with oligarchies.”

Reding’s live two-hour televised event in Sofia is part of a larger debate on Europe organised around some 25 public discussions with citizens in 14 EU countries.

The commissioner, along with Bulgaria’s president Rosen Asenov Plevneliev, fielded questions from citizens upset with rising unemployment, poverty, political deadlock, and government corruption.

“We [European Commission] feel the necessity, we feel the obligation, but we feel also by heart that we have to come to help you, because you fight actually for Bulgarian values, yes, but those are European values,” she told reporters after the debate.

Reding said she could not interfere with the internal affairs of the state but would deliver the public’s message back to Brussels.

The commission’s monitoring report on Bulgaria, the so-called CVM, will remain in place until the government delivers on much needed judicial reforms.

“We are keeping it [CVM] to exercise pressure,” she said.

She also appealed for a solution to the on-going political deadlock between the governing coalition and the main opposition centre-right Gerb.

Gerb has been boycotting the parliament since June following a snap general election in May that provided no clear majority.

The group had won the most seats but demanded a new election code after prosecutors seized a cache of 350,000 illegal ballot papers in a print shop that belongs to a local Gerb official.

Reding told the two sides to “stop their quarrelling” and instead exercise their obligations as elected officials to solve problems instead of creating them.

Gerb is now prepared to return to the parliament as of Tuesday.

“We left parliament to show empathy toward the tens of thousands of people in the streets who do not want this government, and now we will return due to the budget,” said Gerb leader and former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, reports Sofia News Agency Novinite.

Borisov, for his part, resigned as prime minister in February following public uproar over high-energy prices and poverty.

Bulgaria has received nearly €10 billion of EU funding but remains the poorest member state.

News in Brief

  1. VW's internal Dieselgate probe not yet done
  2. Israel defies EU policy with huge settlement expansion
  3. Martin Schulz to be candidate for German chancellor
  4. EU commission gives MEPs Dieselgate paper at last moment
  5. EU parliament committee backs EU-Canada deal
  6. UK MPs must vote on Brexit trigger, court rules
  7. Greek island mayors plead for the transfer of migrants
  8. Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip amid war crimes probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: no Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  3. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  4. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  5. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  7. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  8. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  10. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  11. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  12. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism

Latest News

  1. No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission
  2. EU to Trump: Protectionism is 'doomed to fail'
  3. The French town that swung from socialist to far-right
  4. UK parliament must give Brexit approval, judges rule
  5. 'No indication' VW used EU loans to cheat
  6. Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin
  7. Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'
  8. EU to step up effort against Russian and Islamist propaganda