Group of States against corruption (GRECO)

Group of States against Corruption publishes report on Bulgaria 

Press Release

Strasbourg, 10 November 2010The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) published today its Third Round Evaluation Report on Bulgaria, in which it expresses the urgent need to increase consistency and effective implementation of the rules on party financing and identifies some desirable legal improvements in the criminalisation of corruption.

The report focuses on two distinct themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding. Regarding the criminalisation of corruption [theme I], Bulgaria has ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) and its Additional Protocol (ETS 191). Obvious efforts have been made to implement these conventions and to keep the legal framework on incriminations consistent.

Nevertheless, there is a need to clearly incriminate bribery and trading in influence in the various situations where the beneficiary of the undue advantage is a third person (whether a natural person or a legal entity). Moreover, despite legal changes introduced in 2002, the concept of undue advantage is interpreted too narrowly in practice as implying a material benefit which has a discernible market value.

As for party financing [theme II], Bulgaria has managed to introduce essential measures for the transparency and supervision of party financing and election campaigns with the adoption of the 2005 Political Parties Act and other acts regulating the parliamentary, European Parliament, local and presidential elections.

However, the situation calls for improvements, including a comprehensive harmonisation of legislation, to ensure that the financial statements of parties and candidates adequately reflect their financial activity and are accessible to the public in a timely manner.

Clear criteria are also needed to avoid that public facilities be misused for party activity and election campaign purposes. The range of sanctions concerning financial irregularities needs to be complemented with more proportionate and dissuasive penalties.

The National Audit Office which has the lead responsibility in controlling political financing needs further support given the widespread perception that the financial statements of political parties and campaign participants generally do not reflect the reality.

Moreover, the way the relevant legislation is drafted and prepared suggests that so far, this legislation has been politically instrumentalised. For instance, the Local Elections Act has been amended 24 times since its adoption in 1995 – often too late for these amendments to become fully applicable to the upcoming elections. It comes as no surprise that the sanctions available under the Political Parties Act have been used until recently to address exclusively formal requirements of the law (such as the late submission of financial statements).

GRECO addresses 20 recommendations to Bulgaria. In the second half of 2012, it will assess the implementation of these recommendations through its specific compliance procedure.

Report: Theme I / Theme II

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The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor States' compliance with the organisation's anti-corruption standards. Currently it comprises all 47 member States and the United States of America.
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