The European Commission will continue monitoring Bulgaria's progress in the spheres of judicial reform, fighting organized crime and corruption.
The EC's newly released report on Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism takes stock of the country's performance in the period 2007-2012 and concludes that the achievements still fall short of the mark.
The EC highlights that the CVM has made a positive contribution to Bulgaria's progress in the five years since its accession to the EU.
"The Commission considers that Bulgaria is on its way to attain the objectives of the CVM, provided it steps up the reform process. Deepening reforms will need a stronger ownership of reform, particularly in the leadership of the judiciary. It will also need a clear common direction by the authorities, and a comprehensive approach to implementing change, joining the work of different institutions together more effectively than in the past. This implies a stronger effort to demonstrate, that integrity is valued and that corruption and organised crime is effectively punished," the EC recommends.
"The CVM should continue, in order to lend its support to these efforts and to keep up the momentum of change towards a sustainable and irreversible reform process – a process sufficiently strong that the external intervention of the CVM is no longer needed," the EC report says.
The EC notes that it will stop issuing mid term stock taking reports to allow Bulgaria sufficient time to achieve tangible results.
The Commission vows, however, that it will continue to closely monitor the country's performance with regular missions and through frequent dialogue with the Bulgarian authorities and with other Member States.
The EC informs that it will come up with its next progress report on Bulgaria at the end of 2013.
On July 16, a poll of the Open Society Institute indicated that 77% of Bulgarians were in favor of keeping the CVM, with 78% of the respondents claiming that it had to envisage penalties for the countries tolerating high-level corruption and inefficient justice systems.
The poll also revealed that 60% of Bulgarians did not believe in the fairness of the justice system or the success of the government's fight against corruption and organized crime.
78% of the respondents suggested that the monitoring of the above-mentioned institutions had to be introduced in all EU Member States, rather than Romania and Bulgaria only.