Transparency International (TI) expressed its deep concern over high-level corruption, organised crime and mismanagement in Bulgaria, and supports the European Commission’ decision to freeze aid worth hundreds of millions of euros to the country, on the back of reports it published today.
With anti-corruption reform faltering since EU accession in January 2007, the cases of Bulgaria and Romania show that EU membership is no magic bullet. The European Commission reports are highly critical of both Bulgaria and Romania, although only Bulgaria will be financially penalised. Romania has enjoyed relatively gentle treatment in this round, but urgently needs to accelerate its anti-corruption reforms.
The shortcomings highlighted by the Commission reports echo TI findings in both countries. “The lack of administrative and management capacity and political will to undertake substantive anti-corruption measures hamper their success and enforcement. Immediate steps need to be taken to stop the misuse of EU funds and to investigate corruption-related crimes,” according to Diana Kovatcheva, Executive Director of TI Bulgaria.
“The greatest liability in Romania is that the fight against corruption has become a political instrument in the power struggle among parties,” explained Victor Alistar, Executive Director of TI Romania. “This is why a national consensus on anti-corruption policies has failed and no high-level corruption case was concluded so far. We believe that any new anti-corruption reform must be designed on a purely technical basis and backed by strong political will."
TI recommends progress reports, like the ones issued today, for all member states. Among EU Member States, Bulgaria and Romania are not the only low scorers on TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), illustrating the need for stronger EU-wide anti-corruption controls and monitoring.
To prevent these kinds of problems in the future, Transparency International has also strongly encouraged the European Commission to further open the accession process to civil society – which will be immediately relevant for Croatia and other candidate countries. This will enable a more participatory and transparent accession process but also give civil society groups a stronger basis for holding governments to account during and after accession.
“A European Union that works for its citizens must be free of corruption,” said Jana Mittermaier, Head of the Transparency International Brussels Office. “The fight against corruption in any EU Member States, including Romania or Bulgaria, is a question of the integrity of the entire European Union, and the right of its citizens to responsive, reliable and fair public institutions.”
To read the full EU report, click here.
Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
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