Elena Yoncheva: The prosecution in Bulgaria is uncontrolled and subject to political influence
What are the realistic prospects for lifting the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania? The question was put by Peter Vitanov, head of the delegation of Bulgarian socialists to the EP, to Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourova.
“The two countries have been under special treatment by the EU institutions for too long, and the added value of all this is, to put it mildly, questionable, at least as far as Bulgaria is concerned. The confidence of Bulgarian citizens in the independence of the judiciary ranks among the lowest in the EU. At this backdrop, the praise for the Bulgarian government by the European Commission serves only to deepen the lack of confidence in the EU institutions countrywide. The CVM has proven to be an ineffective instrument, which, however, is used by some member states as a convenient excuse for preventing Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to Schengen,” added Vitanov.
Elena Yoncheva, member of the Group of Socialists in the EP, pointed out to Commissioner Jourova that despite the repeated findings and recommendations of the European Commission and the Venice Commission regarding the lack of an effective judicial system and independent supervision of the prosecution, as well as high-level corruption, authoritarianism is being firmly established in Bulgaria, frequently holding the judiciary under its control. “The prosecution is uncontrolled and subject to political influence,” said Elena Yoncheva and asked the Commissioner about her own view and plan to deal with that serious issue.
She also commented on the unprecedented hacker attack against the National Revenue Agency and the leak of personal data of millions of Bulgarian individuals and companies, and openly asked Commissioner Jourova about who should be held responsible for the EU security breach and whether such a serious gap in data protection would affect negatively Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen.
Commissioner Jourova said that the official position of the European Commission was still the one expressed by President Juncker: the goal is to lift the CVM by the end of this Commission’s term of office, on condition that the recommendations are fulfilled.
Commissioner Jourova answered questions from MEPs of the LIBE Committee regarding the European Commission’s recent initiatives on strengthening the rule of law, personal data protection, and against money-laundering.