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Bulgarian Constitutional Reform in the Context of Bulgaria's EU Accession (2003-2005)
 
On March 29, 2005 a public discussion of the expert analysis on Bulgarian Constitutional Reform in the Context of Bulgaria's EU Accession (2003-2005) was held at the Center for the Study of Democracy.
The analysis is prepared within the framework of the Communication Strategy for the Preparation of Bulgaria for Membership in the EU.

The Program Director of CSD Mr.Boyko Todorov opened the discussion and briefed the participants on the CSD activities in the fields of judicial reform and EU integration.

Mr. Dimitar Pehlivanov from the “Communication Strategy” Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented the work of the Directorate for acquainting the Bulgarian society with the activities of the Ministry in relation to the Bulgaria's EU accession. He pointed out that in implementafon of this purpose, the Ministry has assigned the elaboration of ten analytical reports on various matters, most of which have already been presented before general public.

Ms.Dragomira Paunova, Assistant at CSD Law Program presented the report. She talked in details on the development and different stages of the constitutional reform in Bulgaria (2003-2005).The constitutional amendments in this period concern the provisions on the judiciary as well as implement the political engagements in relation to the European integration. The adopted constitutional amendments by the new member states, which joined EU in 2004, were also presented.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of CSD Law Program underlined, that a large number of proposals were submitted to the Ad-Hoc Parliamentary Committee on Amendments to the Constitution in the course of its work by different institutions and organizations. Although they were not taken into consideration at this stage of the constituional reform, they are presented in the report with regard to the future continuation of the constitutional reform.

Ms.Nelly Kutzkova, Chair of the Union of the Judges in Bulgaria, shared the opinion that 2003 constitutional amendments did not led to considerable positive changes. The amendments regarding the status of the magistrates (the introduction of functional immunity, amendments to the magistrates'irremovability,introduction of fixed term of office for the magistrates in managerial positions) as well as the introduction of secret voting for the members of the Supreme Judicial Council at taking staff-related decisions proved not to be sufficient.The expectations for more transparency and publicity in the work of the judiciary were not satisfied. Ms. Kutzkova said that 2005 amendments, concerning the possibilties EU citizens and legal persons to acquire land in Bulgaria and Bulgarian citizens to be transferred for the purposes of criminal prosecution to other member state in connection with the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant are of great significance, but the results of their future implementation is still to be accessed.

Mr. Vasil Tsankov, associated professor in law, said that the amendments of the Constitution are not adequate enough and will not lead to the desired changes in the democratic space of Bulgaria. According to him, it is necessary the parliamentary quota in the Supreme Judicial Council(SJC) to be removed in order to achieve a better functioning of the judiciary. He also proposed a special constitutional structure for counteracting corruption to be established after the example of Romania.

Dr. Yordanova pointed out that the future composition of the SJC will depend on the structure of the judiciary, but it is recommended either the parliamentary quota to be abolished, or ,if it is to persist, its election should be by qualified majority.

During the discussion, Mr. Todorov raised the question of the ability of the Bulgarian magistrates to effectively apply the acquis communautaire. Ms. Nelly Kutzkova replied that measures are taken this subject to be included in the curriculum of the National Justice Institute as the lack of enough knowledge on the EU Court decisions would require additional training for the magistrates.

Ms.Milena Damianova from the Delegation of the European Commission in Bulgaria pointed out that in a number of spheres EU do not impose obligations for introducing specific measures but demands the achievement of particular results. She stated as an example the necessity of fast and efficient work of the judiciary anf the non-imposing of a specific structural model by EU, but the marking of the most sensitive spheres, incl. the pre-trial phase in the criminal proceedings and the slow and inefficient registration system.

The participants shared the opinion that the already adopted amendments to the Constitution mark a progress in the course of the EU integration process but they should only be the beginning of a wider and more complex constitutional reform in long-term prospective.

Bulgarian Constitutional Reform in the Context of Bulgaria's EU Accession (2003-2005) (only in Bulgarian)
 
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