Bulgarian president vetoes anti-corruption law demanded by Brussels

Bulgarian President Roumen Radev vetoed on Tuesday an anti-corruption law demanded by the European Commission claiming that the law is ineffective.
“I believe that the adopted law not only does not create an adequate legal basis for tackling corruption but will even make it difficult to fight it,” the president stated yesterday, the day after Bulgaria took over the rotating EU presidency.

According to Transparency International, Bulgaria, the poorest EU member, is the country with the highest perceived level of corruption in the EU and has not improved its score in the last five years.

According to the new law, a single anti-corruption body, in line with the Commission’s recommendations, would replace several existing bodies, which according to Brussels did not provide tangible results.

However, President Radev questions the organization and independence of the new anti-corruption body. He also stressed that the protection of whistleblowers was not guaranteed.

Since its accession to EU in 2007, Bulgaria, along with Romania, has been subject to the so-called cooperation and verification mechanism where the Commission is monitoring its progress in the areas of judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organised crime.

In its latest report last November, the Commission concluded in a positive tone that, “with a continued political steer and a determination to advance the reform, Bulgaria should be able to fulfil the remaining outstanding recommendations in the near future”.

The Commission recommended among others that Bulgaria should “adopt a new legal framework on the fight against corruption in line with the intentions set out in the anti-corruption strategy, and ensure its implementation.” It should also set up an effective anti-corruption authority.

The presidential veto obliges the parliament to re-examine the law concerned without being obliged to modify it, if it does not consider it necessary. After this review, the president is obliged to sign the law to allow its entry into force.

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