Low salience of Lisbon Treaty implementation in Bulgaria

The entry into force of the Lis­bon Treaty had lim­it­ed cov­er­age in Bul­gar­ia and pro­voked no major debate in Bul­gar­i­an soci­ety. This trend is inher­it­ed from the pre-acces­sion peri­od when an almost com­plete lack of pub­lic atten­tion to the EU con­sti­tu­tion­al debate and the fol­low­ing rat­i­fi­ca­tion cri­sis pre­vailed. The few inter­est­ed media pub­li­ca­tions have com­ment­ed on the entry in force of the Lis­bon Treaty main­ly in ref­er­ence to Bulgaria’s defi­cien­cies as a new mem­ber state in ful­fill­ing its oblig­a­tions and the reme­dies that the Treaty on the Func­tion­ing of the Euro­pean Union could bring to that sit­u­a­tion with new pro­vi­sions in the areas of free­dom, secu­ri­ty and jus­tice. Spe­cial atten­tion is paid to the fur­ther fed­er­al­i­sa­tion of the Union through the rein­force­ment of the EU crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem that will bring about a “more effec­tive pros­e­cu­tion of crim­i­nals and will guar­an­tee indi­vid­u­als’ rights more effec­tive­ly in free move­ment Europe”.11Sve­toslav Terziev: We are New Bul­gar­i­ans, Are we? The Lis­bon Treaty enhances the hope for Bul­gar­ia to become a “nor­mal” coun­try, 2 Decem­ber 2009, Sega dai­ly, avail­able at: http://www.segabg.com/online/new/articlenew.asp?issueid=4546&sectionId=5&id=0000901 (last access: 30 July 2010).

How­ev­er, the chang­ing role of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment with­in the EU insti­tu­tion­al archi­tec­ture was inten­sive­ly dis­cussed fol­low­ing the unsuc­cess­ful hear­ing of the then Bul­gar­i­an Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs Rumi­ana Jel­e­va as com­mis­sion­er des­ig­nate.

The work of the new Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, Her­man Van Rompuy, is reflect­ed in media arti­cles main­ly in rela­tion to the set­tle­ment of the Greek eco­nom­ic cri­sis. Nonethe­less, assess­ment of his per­for­mance so far is hard to be found either in offi­cial state­ments of polit­i­cal actors, or in pub­lic debate. Pub­lic opin­ion in Bul­gar­ia is still not con­cerned with the work of the new High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Union for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy, Cather­ine Ash­ton.

Bul­gar­ia will con­sid­er get­ting one head of mis­sion posi­tion from 32 announced vacan­cies for heads of EU diplo­mat­ic mis­sions in third coun­tries a suc­cess. The pro­ce­dure is part of a reg­u­lar rota­tion of diplo­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives, which so far head­ed the del­e­ga­tions of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. With the enter­ing into force of the Lis­bon Treaty, the mis­sions become EU rep­re­sen­ta­tions and are under the con­trol of the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice (EEAS). Accord­ing to the spokesper­son of the Bul­gar­i­an For­eign Affairs Min­istry Ves­sela Tch­erne­va, Bul­gar­ia is hop­ing to get one posi­tion for an ambas­sador in a coun­try from the Black Sea region or the Balka­ns, because it is there where “we have inter­ests and exper­tise”.22Avail­able at: http://www.euinside.eu/en/news/sofia-hopes-for-one-eu-mission-chief (last access: 30 July 2010).

Bul­gar­ia was part of the group of new EU mem­ber states that insist­ed, while the diplo­mat­ic ser­vice was being estab­lished, that the prin­ci­ple of geo­graph­ic bal­ance be tak­en into account in order to ensure that younger mem­ber states would not be less rep­re­sent­ed – first, because the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of old mem­ber states dom­i­nate in the cur­rent bod­ies of the Union (where 2/3 of the EEAS per­son­nel would come from) and, sec­ond, because the can­di­dates from the “old” EU nations have greater expe­ri­ence and longer careers in Euro­pean insti­tu­tions.

The Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive (ECI) is still an unfa­mil­iar con­cept in Bul­gar­ia. Although the Nation­al Assem­bly, fol­low­ing the spir­it of the Lis­bon Treaty, adopt­ed a new Law on Direct Civic Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the State and Local Gov­ern­ment 33State Gazette 44, 12 June 2009, avail­able at: http://dv.parliament.bg/DVWeb/index.faces (last access: 30 July 2010). in June 2009 where the cit­i­zens’ ini­tia­tive is for the first time men­tioned in Bul­gar­i­an leg­is­la­tion, the new instru­ment has nev­er attract­ed pub­lic atten­tion. A mod­est attempt by civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions to com­ment on the oppor­tu­ni­ties that the ECI will open for civic inter­ests to be for­ward­ed to the EU polit­i­cal process was made in the frame­work of a con­fer­ence “Europe 2020 – The Civic Vision” held in Sofia on 29 and 30 Jan­u­ary 2010. The over­all assess­ment agreed by par­tic­i­pants is that the ECI is a very pos­i­tive devel­op­ment and expec­ta­tions of it are high, per­haps too high. There­fore it will need to prove itself with the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tion to focus on prop­er issues so that the enthu­si­asm is not wast­ed. Anoth­er key aspect will be the Commission’s response to this ini­tia­tive.44Avail­able at: http://parliament.europe.bg/en/?id=26996&category=371 (last access: 30 July 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Sve­toslav Terziev: We are New Bul­gar­i­ans, Are we? The Lis­bon Treaty enhances the hope for Bul­gar­ia to become a “nor­mal” coun­try, 2 Decem­ber 2009, Sega dai­ly, avail­able at: http://www.segabg.com/online/new/articlenew.asp?issueid=4546&sectionId=5&id=0000901 (last access: 30 July 2010).
  • 2Avail­able at: http://www.euinside.eu/en/news/sofia-hopes-for-one-eu-mission-chief (last access: 30 July 2010).
  • 3State Gazette 44, 12 June 2009, avail­able at: http://dv.parliament.bg/DVWeb/index.faces (last access: 30 July 2010).
  • 4Avail­able at: http://parliament.europe.bg/en/?id=26996&category=371 (last access: 30 July 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.