Bulgarian President Rumen Radev [official website] on Tuesday vetoed [statement, in Bulgarian] an anti-corruption measure adopted last month by the country’s National Assembly [official website].
The Law for Counteracting Corruption and Forfeiture of the Unlawfully Acquired Property [materials, in Bulgarian], adopted by the National Assembly on December 20, would have created a single commission charged with investigating high government officials for graft and conflicts of interest.
In vetoing the measure, Radev said that the law “not only does not provide an adequate legal basis for dealing with corruption but will make it even more difficult to fight it.” Radev pointed to fragmentation of anti-corruption responsibilities among various governmental units, insufficient guarantees of the independence and impartiality of commission members, the lack of professional qualifications needed to join the commission and the potential for politically motivated investigations as justifying his decision.
Radev nonetheless signaled his support for the larger effort to fight corruption in Bulgaria, saying that “corruption restricts the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, erodes confidence in the state, hampers economic development and investment, and steals the nation’s welfare” and calling for “a comprehensive and multidisciplinary” solution.
The European Commission [official website] has continuously monitored [materials] anti-corruption efforts in Bulgaria since it joined the EU [JURIST report] in 2007. The Commission’s oversight role and Radev’s decision to scuttle an EU priority in Bulgaria take on additional significance as Bulgaria assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union [official websites] on January 1.