The European Commission has just published the results of its survey of public sentiment in Bulgaria as part of its report into the state of affairs in the Balkan member.
According to the Eurobarometer 97% of Bulgarian respondents ranked corruption as an important problem, with 96% ranking judicial shortcomings and organised crime.
When Bulgaria was granted membership to the European Union in 2007, it was acknowledged that many civil institutions in the former Communist country were sub standard. It was agreed that the EC would maintain a presence in Bulgaria to monitor its moves towards modernisation, particularly in regards to the judiciary.
In January 2014 the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism summarised the challenges facing Bulgaria as follows:
In the case of Bulgaria3, the Commission found that since its last report in July 2012 this country had made some progress. The report noted that there had been some degree of improvement in appointment procedures and some useful managerial steps taken in the prosecution service and the judiciary. However, it concluded that overall progress was not yet sufficient and was still fragile, and that public confidence had been eroded by appointments aborted due to integrity issues and the escape of convicted leaders of organised crime from justice, as well as a succession of revelations about political influence on the judicial system.
The report also found that there were still very few cases where instances of corruption or organised crime had been brought to a conclusion in court. The report concluded by setting out a range of recommendations for Bulgaria to improve the functioning of its judicial system as well as its performance in the fight against corruption and organised crime.