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Bulgaria and Romania must produce concrete and irreversible anti-corruption results

Transparency International (TI) continues to be deeply concerned about high-level corruption, organised crime and mismanagement of EU funds in Bulgaria and Romania. TI strongly recommends continued anti-corruption progress monitoring for both countries. EU sanctions imposed on Bulgaria since 2008 should continue until its poor performance in delivering tangible results to prevent and fight corruption, is significantly improved. The European Commission today issued reports assessing both countries’ advances in fighting corruption and reforming the judiciary.

In both Bulgaria and Romania, hardly any concrete, irreversible measures to prevent and combat corruption have been implemented. Their judicial systems remain non-transparent and often ineffective. It is essential that both nations pursue proper investigations and apply suitable sentences to those found guilty of corruption and organised crime.

Corruption obstructs the optimal functioning of public services, with citizens suffering from sub-standard health care and education, an underdeveloped public works sector and weak law enforcement. Public administration is not performing at acceptable levels and ultimately, the ability to achieve sustainable development is severely undermined.

“Corruption and organised crime in Bulgaria remain endemic. The Bulgarian government must put an end to the façade of change and launch real anti-corruption reform. Unless this happens, the EU sanctions cannot be lifted,” said Diana Kovatcheva, Executive Director of TI Bulgaria.

The Romanian judicial system is paralysed by an excessive self-regulatory process coupled with an absence of checks and balances, as well as accountability mechanisms. It is particularly worrying that reforms are not systemically approached. Instead, anti-corruption measures appear to be timed to achieve short-term political goals and influence public opinion.

“In Romania, the air is thick with corruption due to highly deficient anti-corruption bodies. This gap is being filled with the exposure of corruption cases through national and international media,” said Victor Alistar, Executive Director of TI Romania.

The lack of sustainable, concrete results in the fight against corruption should prevent the early expiry of the European Union’s “Co-operation and Verification Mechanism”, a monitoring instrument required of Bulgaria and Romania upon their joining the EU in January 2007. This mechanism monitors the progress made by both countries regarding judicial system reform and the fight against corruption. Since 2007, some anti-corruption measures have been launched by both countries, but results are far from satisfactory since these initiatives are limited to the EU’s minimal mandatory requirements and do not address the core corruption problems faced by Bulgaria and Romania.

“The EU is not immune to corruption,” said Jana Mittermaier, Head of the Transparency International Brussels Office. “Joining the EU is not a magic bullet against corruption. TI recommends anti-corruption progress reports for all future and even current EU member states. TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that there is clearly a need for stronger EU-wide anti-corruption controls and monitoring”.

Transparency International has also strongly encouraged the European Commission to further open the enlargement process to civil society – which will be immediately relevant for Croatia and other candidate countries. This will enable a more participatory and transparent Enlargement process but also give civil society groups a stronger basis for holding governments to account during and after accession.


Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

If you wish to read more about anti-corruption in Bulgaria and Romania, click here.

For any press enquiries please contact

Jana Mittermaier
T: +32 (2) 504 90 61
E: [email protected]

Diana Kovatcheva, Sofia
T: +359-2-986 7920
E: [email protected]

Victor Alistar, Bucharest
T: +40 721 093 424
E: [email protected]

Gypsy Guillén Kaiser
T: +49 30 3438 20 662
E: [email protected]