29th Jan 2023

Bulgaria and Romania unruffled by Brussels' corruption criticism

  • Both Romania and Bulgaria should better tackle high-level corruption, says Brussels (Photo: Wikipedia)

Bulgaria and Romania have shown little concern over criticism by the European Commission that they are failing to do enough to tackle corruption levels.

The commission on Monday (4 February) issued two interim reports on Bulgaria and Romania's progress in the field of justice and home affairs, calling on the countries to show more zeal in the fight against high-level corruption.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

For Bulgaria, it also says improvement is needed on the handling of organised crime.

"The findings of the European commission are not surprising for us. We did not expect the interim report at this stage to be 100 percent positive," said Betina Joteva of the Bulgarian mission to the EU.

But she added: "The Bulgarian side is committed at the highest political level to strictly follow all requirements" so that the final annual report, expected in July, is more positive.

The Romanian side was equally unruffled.

"The reports are fair and factual and reflect the cooperation between the Romanian government and the European commission," said Theodora Doris Mircea, spokesperson of the Romanian mission to the EU.

She noted that these are only interim reports and there is still time for Bucharest to make progress before publication of the more comprehensive assessments.

The interim reports highlight the concrete areas where the commission thinks the main problems lie so such issues can be tackled before July.

But despite the criticism, the two reports also show the countries' governments have been making an effort. They also prove the "mechanism for cooperation and verification" - set up for Bulgaria and Romania and of which the interim reports are part - is showing results, commission spokesperson Mark Gray said on Monday.

"But to maintain credibility, further efforts are needed," he underlined.

Under Bulgaria and Romania's accession treaties – setting out the terms and conditions of the countries' EU membership - if Sofia and Bucharest fall short of EU standards in certain areas, such as the economy, the internal market, and justice and home affairs, the EU can decide to take certain punishment measures - the so-called safeguard clauses.

The countries' accession packages represent the closest-ever monitoring imposed on a country joining the bloc, following concern in some national capitals that the two states were not sufficiently prepared when they joined on 1 January 2007.

Bulgaria and Romania criticised for corruption levels

The European Commission will on Monday criticise Bulgaria and Romania for their lacklustre fight against corruption and crime – but will stop short of calling for sanctions against the countries.

Poland's legal fixes to collect EU funds come under fire

Unlocking the €35.4bn in grants and loans allocated for Poland as part of the EU's Covid-19 fund is key for the Law & Justice (PiS) government to boost its chances ahead of the upcoming elections in the autumn.


MEP pension fund invested in cluster munition arms industry

The European Parliament's voluntary pension scheme held 14,900 shares in Raytheon in 2008 with a market value of $547,000, despite being blacklisted by Norway's sovereign wealth in 2005 for producing and selling cluster munitions.


Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters

The ECHR ruled that Russia was in "effective control" of separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine from 11 May 2014. In doing so, the court has formally acknowledged the inter-state character of the conflict and Russia's culpability for human rights abuses.


Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  2. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  3. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  5. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades
  6. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  7. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  8. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us