[JURIST] The European Commission (EC) [official website] said Monday that new EU members Bulgaria and Romania must do more to achieve judicial reform and fight corruption and organized crime. An interim report on Bulgaria [PDF text; summary] criticized Bulgarian efforts to counter high-level corruption and organized crime for not demonstrating "convincing results." Another interim report on Romania [PDF text; summary] praised the Romanian government's commitment to judicial reform and ending corruption, but again criticized the lack of concrete results and said it needed to concentrate on high-level corruption. The EC did not call for sanctions against the two countries, but did say that both needed to improve ahead of the Commission's next detailed evaluation in mid-2008.
Last June, the EC issued similar findings in two progress reports [JURIST report], saying that Bulgaria and Romania needed to do more to achieve judicial reform, and combat corruption and organized crime [press release]. In January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania officially joined the EU [JURIST report] following six years of accession negotiations. Both countries are required to meet a series of benchmarks; failing to do so could result in EU intervention and the loss of economic aid under Articles 36-38 of the Act of Accession [text], which lays out safeguard mechanisms [EC backgrounder] in the event of problems posing a threat to the functioning of the EU. EUobserver has more.