GRECO notes that top officials of the government are not subject to a proper integrity framework: no code of ethics is applicable to them, no awareness-raising on integrity matters is provided and no mechanism for confidential counselling on ethical issues is in place. In addition, GRECO calls for more transparency concerning the conditions of government officials, including their remuneration and possible ancillary activities, etc. The report also highlights the absence of rules and transparency in respect of interaction with lobbyists seeking to influence government policies. GRECO is also concerned about ineffective verification of top officials’ declarations of interest and assets. Another issue of concern is the lack of effectiveness of the criminal justice response to corruption offences involving top government officials. The criminal process needs to be enhanced, including by eliminating procedural impediments to investigations and providing for adequate sanctions.
GRECO furthermore stresses the need to strengthen the operational independence of the Police from political influence. A comprehensive mapping of corruption risks in various police structures is called for, and a dedicated anti-corruption strategy should be put in place. Moreover, a code of ethics for the Police is required, covering all relevant integrity matters in one document (e.g. conflicts of interest, gifts, contacts with third parties, outside activities, handling of confidential information), which needs to be addressed during initial and in-service training, including in respect of senior rank officers. Issues, such as sponsoring of the Police require to be regulated in detail. GRECO also calls upon the authorities to ensure that recruitment and promotion procedures of the Police are sufficiently transparent and based on merit, and for more representation of women at all levels in the Police. An obligation to report integrity-related misconduct within the Police is needed, and comprehensive legislation is required to ensure effective protection of whistle-blowers.
The implementation of the recommendations addressed to Bulgaria will be assessed by GRECO in 2024 through its compliance procedure.
Link to the report: English - French - Bulgarian*
* unofficial translation, as provided by the authorities of Bulgaria