Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bulgaria and Romania must work harder on justice reforms - EU

Brussels (dpa) - New European Union members Bulgaria and Romania must do more to reform their justice systems, according to a report by the European Commission.

Above all the fight against corruption and organized crime must be strengthened, the Commission said in a report to be published Wednesday.

However, EU diplomats said that the use of safeguard clauses was not being recommended.

These were clauses agreed with Romania and Bulgaria before their EU entry in January this year to deal with serious shortcomings or delays in the fulfilment of commitments as members states. As a last resort they can be used to suspend a country's member rights.

The Commission report acknowledges improvements in the justice systems in both countries but concludes that these have not been sufficient.

It will take several more years before the justice systems in Romania and Bulgaria reach the necessary EU level, the report says, particularly in Bulgaria where corruption and organized crime are significant problems.

The European Commission reserves the right to trigger the safeguard clauses in the future. The progress of reform in the two new member states is examined every six months.

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