More concrete results needed in Romania and Bulgaria

‘It seems as if the fight against corruption and organised crime is progressing with difficulty in fits and starts,’ observed Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen in an initial response to reports by the European Commission on the development of the rule of law in Bulgaria and Romania.

Like the Commission, the Netherlands recognises the great effort made by the Bulgarian and Romanian governments. But even more concrete results will be necessary, said Mr Knapen. ‘It would seem that the rule of law has not yet reached the desired level in Bulgaria and Romania.’

The government will begin by studying the reports thoroughly and critically. It is expected to submit its assessment to parliament by the end of August. In line with the coalition agreement, the principal criterion will be whether Romania and Bulgaria have made irreversible progress. Indeed, irreversible progress is one of the Netherlands’ conditions for allowing the two countries’ entry into the Schengen Area, where international border controls have been abolished.

Upon their accession to the European Union, it was agreed that the European Commission would produce regular reports on legal reforms, and on the fight against corruption and, in Bulgaria, organised crime.