Emil Radev: I hope this to be the last monitoring for Bulgaria

It is high time to do away with this discriminatory mechanism

Bulgaria has met all the recommendations although some of them were changed on-the-go while others were contradictory. Somebody has to explain why in the last 12 years tens of millions of euro were spent to fund these procedures, and to show what results they have yielded, says MEP Emil Radev in an interview to Europost.

Mr Radev, the European Commission came out with the reports on Bulgaria and Romania concerning the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification. Is there a chance that this will be the last monitoring for Bulgaria?

Bulgaria has met each and every recommendation set in 2017 because at long last we received 17 clear-cut recommendations. It was pledged that if we meet all of them, the monitoring mechanism will be scrapped. You know that the CVM was agreed upon already during the accession negotiations so that it could be further implemented. Evidently, though, the recommendations were changed on-the-go and some of them were even mutually exclusive. That is why we believe it is high time to scrap this discriminatory mechanism which is applied only to Bulgaria and Romania. We are aware that such issues as corruption and supremacy of law are pertinent to the entire European Union. Much to our regret, though, instead of enforcing more instruments that would help eradicate corruption at the European level, the EC, as we saw in recent years, has scrapped the annual reports about its rates in the whole of the European Union. We also saw that regardless of the recommendation of the European Parliament to make these reports annual, the Commission did not comply with it. Our aim is to introduce a uniform European mechanism for monitoring supremacy of law, which would enable us to assess the performance of all Member States on the basis of clear-cut criteria. This issue has not been addressed for years, but now there is hope that the incoming members of the European Commission will see to it that such mechanism is adopted. The question is whether it will be a complete package of measures and instruments, as we now insist. All this means that the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification for Bulgaria and Romania should be finally cancelled. It has long outlived its usefulness and is now used only to levy criticism against Bulgaria and Romania. This was the key argument which our opponents put forward to forestall our accession to the Schengen Area. Meanwhile, the fight against corruption in the other Member States is not on par either. In Italy, for instance, the corruption perception index stands at 98%. In Bulgaria, this index is significantly lower.

Do you mean to say that you hope this monitoring report will be the last for Bulgaria?

Hopefully this will be the last report, in line with the recommendations. To our regret, though, the new European Commission has too little time to take this decision. I know that this is a hard decision to make because someone has to explain why in the last 12 years tens of millions of euro have been spent to fund these procedures. Ultimately, we have to see what results they have yielded. In my opinion, it has been done only to smear Bulgaria and Romania. Hopefully, the new members of the European Commission would have enough courage to scrap this mechanism, as it has been pledged to us for a long time. Bulgaria has done well, met all the recommendations as to the legislative framework, judicial system, prosecution, Ministry of Interior reform. We deserve that the CVM is cancelled for Bulgaria. However, with regard to the current developments in Romania, the European Commission will hardly resolve to make such a step.

There is a longstanding opinion that EC reports should be made on all Member States, why was this decision delayed?

The Parliament took the decision two years ago, but there is no legislative initiative. At the beginning of December, a very serious debate is envisioned concerning the joint European anticorruption strategy. I initiated a hearing in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament, which addresses such issues. I hope it will give another impetus for the adoption of common European measures for fighting corruption and the European Commission will devise an efficient approach for creating such a mechanism soon.

Bulgaria and Romania “come in package” - does that hamper Bulgaria?

Naturally it does hamper Bulgaria. You see that our country has been doing very well in recent years, complying with all the recommendations. But the criteria set to Romania are tangible. Even the first Romanian nominee for Commissioner was rejected on the basis of suspicions of corruption. A probe was launched which was later suspended as the person was not stripped of immunity. Certainly all this has affected Bulgaria too.

Another important issue for Bulgaria is Brexit. Is there a way out of this unending saga?

The European Union has done its utmost to arrive at an agreement, the deadlines were extended many times. You saw how many times Brexit has been postponed since 2016. Currently, everything depends on Great Britain alone. The European Union can only wait and see what will happen from this moment on. This is not a child's play. The insecurity is detrimental both to Great Britain and to the European citizens and economy. This saga must come to an end, be it the divorce of Great Britain from the EU, striking a deal, or a second referendum.

In your opinion, is 31 October an impossible deadline for delivering Brexit, do you rule the date out completely?

There are no impossible options right now. We should not be downright pessimistic, I hope that reason will prevail and if Brexit takes place it will result from a deal. This is in the best interests of all European citizens.

You have recently raised alarm about the problems in the transportation of animals. What causes these problems, and is there a functional zoo police at all?

The transportation of animals is a common problem in the entire European Union and something is amiss for years. This problem is especially acute along the external European borders, including the biggest border cross point, Kapitan Andreevo, in Bulgaria. What I mean is lack of institutional control over animals transportation. It is a pity, but mortality rate among the transported animals is growing, they should be attended to with more care and the organisation regarding the passage across the border of animal transport vehicles has to be improved. As of yet, there are no legislative amendments at the European level. I hope that the new Commissioner for Agriculture will pay heed to that. It was stipulated in his programme. In Bulgaria, there is a working zoo police, and it works increasingly better. I hope that incidents of animals' killings will decrease because both the prosecutor's office and the zoo police have been reacting to such crimes uncompromisingly in recent months. You know that cruelty against animals is then often transferred also against people, that's why we must be uncompromising against these crimes.

We should also add to that the illegal trade in animals, shouldn't we?

The illegal trade in animals, their illegal breeding, raising domestic animals in abhorring conditions, document forgery - all this is a business worth over €2bn a year, and it is run on an all-European scale. The regulatory mechanisms must be very efficient, the animals must be chipped, control improved, and the business legalised.

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Emil Radev was born on 26 May 1971 in the city of Varna. He graduated in Law and Public Administration and is currently a graduate student in Commercial Law. He has worked as a lawyer in Varna. From 2009 till 2013 he was an MP in the 41st and 42nd National Assembly. He was elected MEP in 2014. He is a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament. He speaks English, German and Russian.

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