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Public Discussion: Corruption and Anti-corruption in Bulgaria (2012-2013)
 
On 29 November 2013, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation presented CSD’s annual policy brief on “Corruption and Anti-corruption in Bulgaria 2012 – 2013”, as well as the latest results from the Corruption Monitoring system, developed by CSD and the sociological agency Vitosha Research.

Ms. Regine Schubert, Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bulgaria, welcomed the cooperation between the two organizations on anti-corruption in Bulgaria. She expressed her disappointment with the slow progress in the fight against corruption in the country, as highlighted by the European Commission on multiple occasions. Ms. Schubert is hopeful that the new government will fulfil its promises in the field of anti-corruption and deliver tangible improvements in the coming year.

Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of research at CSD, presented the latest results from the Corruption Monitoring System and noted that the level of administrative corruption in Bulgaria affecting the population and the business sector has not changed compared to the previous year. He pointed out though that paying bribes has become the standard way of dealing with certain everyday administrative hurdles, and citizens engage in it without even being prompted by the administration. Mr. Stoyanov attributed this to the lack of sustained tangible change in the social environment, which is conducive to corrupt practices. Even though civil servants are exerting less corruption pressure, the number of people who would offer a bribe without being asked for it is increasing. The level of corruption in the business sector has not changed significantly since 2007.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program at CSD, gave an overview of the functioning of the main anti-corruption agencies in Bulgaria. The report suggests that the incoherent policies introduced by these institutions, or lack thereof, are among the main factors, which allow for the high levels of corruption to persist. Consequently, these agencies suffer from very low levels of public trust. She underlined that it was particularly worrying that this year the Constitutional Court’s integrity had also been compromised, as its primary role is to provide an upstanding example for the other bodies in the judicial system and uphold the Constitution.

Dr. Philip Gounev, Senior Analyst in the Security Program at CSD, assessed the anticorruption activities of the main law enforcement institutions. He suggested that Bulgaria lacks a politically independent investigative body, due to the scarce human resources necessary to carry out investigations, particularly at the highest levels of power. The series of ill planned structural reforms, which have been introduced since mid-2013, have effectively halted the anti-corruption activities, both within the police and the revenue agencies.

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