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Bulgarian President Vetoes Anti-Corruption Bill

While few doubt the need for tougher laws, the bill’s critics have argued that its shortcomings would have derailed an efficient fight against graft.

3 January 2018

One day after Bulgaria took the helm of the rotating EU presidency, its head of state Rumen Radev (pictured) voted against anti-corruption legislation approved by parliament last month, according to Reuters.


Radev’s main complaint was that the draft law didn’t go nearly far enough to do battle with wrongdoing in a country that international organizations such as Transparency International consistently rank as the most corrupt in the EU.


A statement issued by the presidential office, and cited by The Sofia Globe, mentioned corruption’s “multi-faceted dimensions,” and argued that the provisions of the draft law would not be sufficient to fight these. “These measures, albeit necessary, are insufficient to effectively counteract corruption, as society expects …” the statement read.


Other counterarguments against the bill had to do with a provision for the creation of an anti-corruption body. This initiative was foredoomed, the presidential statement read, given the existence already of several other bodies meant to determine conflicts of interest, and the lack of “convincing guarantees for the independence, impartiality, and responsibility” of the members of the new body, who would be appointed by lawmakers.


Kornelia Ninova, chairman of the main opposition Socialist Party, backed Radev, and said that his veto was a “golden chance” for parliament to produce efficient anti-graft legislation, Reuters writes. The parliament could still overturn Radev’s veto, however.



  • Other controversial provisions of the bill, writes The Sofia Globe, are that whistleblowers would have to provide full information about their personal identities, and that wire-tapping would be allowed, although the information collected would not be admissible in court.


  • A Twitter campaign launched by the Bulgarian presidency under the hashtag #BulgariaIn30Facts, and meant to promote the country ahead of its EU Council presidency, was mocked for allegedly old-fashioned and factually incorrect messages, Balkan Insight writes. Some Twitter users with a taste for irony went even further and created tweets in the same vein, such as one cautioning foreign visitors about Bulgarian thugs called “mutra,” which the government and judiciary allow to “roam in the country and do what they do.”


  • Neighboring Romania has been growing impatient as the EU drags out a decision on the accession to the visa-free Schengen area for the country and Bulgaria. Both have met the technical conditions to join Schengen – mainly concerning border checks, police cooperation, and visas – but the decision is ultimately in the hands of the other Schengen area states.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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