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Bulgaria government approves bill targeting organized crime

The Bulgarian government passed a long-delayed bill on Wednesday that allows "civil confiscation" of assets before conviction. This allows the Commission for Establishing of Property Acquired from Criminal Activity [official website] to launch investigations of people who cannot account for their income [Reuters report], in a move designed to target organized crime. The bill has yet to be passed by the parliament.

The European Commission (EC) [official website] released reports [JURIST report] in March 2010 that said Bulgaria [report, PDF; summary, PDF] needed to do more to combat corruption and organized crime and conduct judicial reforms in order to enjoy its full rights as a member of the European Union (EU) [official website]. In January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania officially joined the EU [JURIST report] following six years of accession negotiations. Both countries have been required to comply with a series of benchmarks. Failing to do so could result in EU intervention and the potential 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.

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