“The European Commission’s CVM report is positive for Bulgaria. We have all made efforts – not only the government, but also the opposition – to end the CVM. It is discriminatory by nature, insofar as it is being implemented by only two of the member states, while others also have issues with the rule of law. It is ineffective – in the past few years it has turned into a pure formality. It is no longer based on objective criteria. The expectations have moved from Sofia to Brussels,” said Head of the Delegation of Bulgarian Socialists to the EP Peter Vitanov in Strasbourg.
“Today’s step is not a surprise – Mr Juncker announced as early as January that his goal was to lift the CVM by the end of this Commission’s mandate. The government may have convinced Brussels that all the recommendations have been implemented, but it is more important that the Bulgarian citizens are convinced,” emphasised Vitanov.
“We have often seen this report being used for internal political purposes – elections are coming up in Bulgaria and Romania, and some political parties will try to capitalise on the conclusions for the two countries. That is why the Mechanism should be lifted – recently, it has been used as an instrument for political purposes,” added Vitanov.
He said that the CVM report was only a step towards lifting the Mechanism and that reforms should continue. It is also planned to introduce a new, comprehensive mechanism for all member states: “It is an approach that will enhance the equal and objective treatment of all countries. We have not yet seen the underlying criteria of the new mechanism. Let us hope that they will not be stricter than the current ones.”
The Commission will have to take into account the opinion of the European Parliament and the Council before making the final decision to end the Mechanism. Mr Vitanov also emphasised that the procedure was unprecedented and still unclear, which was causing some confusion.
Commenting on Commissioner Avramopoulous’s statement that the Commission is hoping that Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia will soon join Schengen, Mr Vitanov recalled that there was no direct connection between the Mechanism and Schengen, but unfortunately, the CVM reports had been so far used by some member states to prevent Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to Schengen.