Manfred Weber and Bulgaria: Is There a Dual Standard on the Rule of Law?

Manfred Weber is a changed man. In May 2018, he warned that people should not “point fingers” at Orban who was not a “bad European.” After months of turning his eyes away from the Hungarian rule of law crisis, on the day of the vote on the activation of Article 7(1) of the Treaty on the European Union against Hungary (12 September 2018), he did a 180 degree turn. ‘Today I will vote in favour of triggering . I have always been in favour of building bridges and I want to continue to do so but yesterday I didn’t see any readiness from the Hungarian PM to make a move towards his EU partners and address our concerns. #Hungary,” he posted on Twitter. Four days later, Financial Times reported he was already concerned not only about Hungary, but also about Poland, Romania, and possibly other countries.

If you follow my blog, however, you probably know that Bulgaria’s democracy and rule of law are in a critical condition (if you do not, consider reading, for instance,  All You Need to Know About Bulgaria’s Rule of Law in 10 Charts). So, while I appreciate the evolution of Weber’s views, I am troubled that he did not mention Bulgaria as a country he is worried about. Manfred Weber is running for President of the European Commission, so his opinion, fickle as it may be, can have huge consequences for the rule of law debate, which will surely continue to haunt EU institutions.

Is there something I am missing from the big picture? I carried out a Twitter survey to find out how Weber’s awkward silence on Bulgaria could be explained.

Shall we see what the survey found?

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Why Do EU Politicians Avoid Discussing Bulgaria’s Rampant Corruption and Lack of Rule of Law? Dissecting the Silence!

As a scholar with a research interest in the rule of law and as a Bulgarian citizen, I have been asking this question for a long time. For the sake of giving credit where credit is due, it is worth mentioning that the European Greens tried to raise concern about Bulgaria’s rampant corruption at the start of Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in January 2018 by publishing a critical report and by directly confronting Bulgaria’s Prime Minister on the matter at the European Parliament. However, they have progressively quieted down.

To be fair, the Greens are not in a position to do much either. Yet, what about the EPP, the Progressives or ALDE which is known for its motto “Values First”? These are the three largest groups at the European Parliament and all of them have members from Bulgaria.

At the end of August 2018, I carried out an improvised Twitter survey to see if my followers shared my worries (Figure 1). 36 people voted and 2 users who missed the deadline to cast their vote sent me separate comments, as we will see below.

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All You Need to Know about Bulgaria’s Rule of Law in 10 Charts

On 23 August 2017, I launched to shed light on the lack of rule of law, the systemic and deliberate human rights abuses, and the rampant corruption in Bulgaria (most corrupt EU member according to Transparency International!). For one year, my approach towards analyzing these pressing issues has been predominantly legal: I have commented current events from the perspective of the legal framework, including Bulgaria’s international obligations, I have explained inconsistencies in case law, and I have raised concern about dangerous law reforms aimed at transforming Bulgaria into an autocratic State.

If you live in a democracy, however, it is surely difficult to imagine the full range of consequences and long-term effects of abuses in countries like Bulgaria. In turn, if you live in Bulgaria, maybe it is hard to visualize how the abuses other people experience affect YOU personally.

This time I will demonstrate what the lack of rule of law and corruption ‘look like’ with 10 simple graphs/tables. I will start with the more visible and direct consequences and move towards the more indirect effects, which are equally disturbing.

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Vlog Post: The Presumption of Guilt in Bulgaria

Contrary to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and Directive 2016/343 on the presumption of innocence, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office consistently applies a presumption of guilt!

Spectacular televised arrests, violence against suspects, destruction of proof, and simulation of trials are common in the country.

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Видео пост: Презумпцията за виновност в България

Зрелищни арести, насилие срещу заподозрени, унищожаване на доказателства и симулация на съдебни процеси.

Въпреки че презумпцията за невинност е фундаментален принцип на Европейската конценция за правата на човека и на Хартата на основните права на ЕС и е залегнала в Директива 2016/343, българската прокуратура упорито прилага презумпция за виновност.

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Spectacular Televised Arrests, Media Trials, and Abuse of Process: The Presumption of Guilt in Bulgaria

“Bulgaria’s Prosecution applies Bulgarian law according to which the guilty ones become accused and that is the purpose of criminal proceedings.”[1] Sadly, this was a comment before the media made by Bulgaria’s General Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov in light of an accusation Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office raised in 2017.

Bulgaria is an EU member and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, haunted by totalitarian tradition, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office applies a presumption of guilt – a major abuse of fundamental rights, which has severe consequences for suspects and accused alike.

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Зрелищни арести, медийно-наказателни процеси и злоупотреба с право – добре дошли в България!

„Българската прокуратура работи по българските закони, според които виновните биват обвиняеми и това е целта на наказателния процес“.[1] Това е коментар пред медиите, направен от главния прокурор Сотир Цацаров, във връзка с обвинение, повдигнато от прокуратурата през 2017 г.

Независимо от факта, че България е член на ЕС и е ратифицирала Европейската конвенция за правата на човека, българската прокуратура упорито прилага презумпция за виновност. Това е грубо нарушение на фундаменталните човешки права, което води до тежки последствия и за заподозрени, и за обвиняеми.

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Vlog Post: Criminal Corporate Raiding in Bulgaria

The shameful practice of criminal corporate raiding has recently gained new ground.

Do you know…

  • what it entails?
  • in which countries this illegal practice prevails?
  • which institutions are usually involved?
  • any examples from Bulgaria?

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Видео пост: Престъпното корпоративно рейдърство в България

  • Какво представлява престъпното корпоративно рейдърство?
  • В кои държави е популярна тази неприемлива за правова държава практика?
  • Кои институции са обикновено замесени в подобни атаки?
  • Защо срещу КТБ е приложена класическа рейдърска схема?

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Престъпно корпоративно рейдърство – що е то?

Престъпното корпоративно рейдърство и правният нихилизъм са явления, които се свързват с Русия. За съжаление, незаконното превземане на частен бизнес, както и селективното наказателно преследване, са често срещани в някои държави-членки на ЕС като България. Разбира се, България, която в момента е председател на Съвета на ЕС, не е типичната „новодошла“ страна. За разлика от другите бивши комунистически държави в Източна Европа, които бяха приети в ЕС, България не преживя революция. Българският комунистически режим падна под натиска на собствената си тежест – едно крило на всемогъщата комунистическа партия организира комплот срещу другото. И това обуслови тъжния ход на прехода.

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Vlog Post: #eu2018bg The Mass Bulgarian Exodus

Do you know that Bulgaria is the fastest shrinking nation in the world according to the United Nations? Are you aware that Bulgaria has the third highest mortality rate in the world according to the CIA Factbook? Have you heard that there are more Bulgarians working abroad than in Bulgaria? Have you realized that Bulgarians give up their Bulgarian citizenship?

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Видео пост: #eu2018bg Защо българите масово емигрират?

Знаете ли, че според ООН, България е страната с най-бързо свиващо се население в света? Информирани ли сте, че България е с трето най-високо ниво на смъртност в света според ЦРУ? Наясно ли сте, че повече българи работят извън граница, отколкото в България? Осведомени ли сте, че българите масово сменят гражданството си?

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Criminal Corporate Raiding in Bulgaria

Criminal corporate raiding and legal nihilism are concepts coined to reflect Russian reality. Yet, the illegal takeover of private businesses and selective prosecution are common in some EU member states like Bulgaria, too. Of course, Bulgaria, which is currently presiding the Council of the EU, isn’t the average newcomer. In contrast to other former-communist countries in Eastern Europe which made their way to the EU, Bulgaria didn’t face a revolution. The Bulgarian communist regime fell under the pressure of its own weight – one wing of the omnipotent Communist Party trumped another. And this made all the difference.

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#eu2018bg: Защо младите хора не виждат бъдещето си в България?

Един от четирите приоритета на българското председателство на Съвета на ЕС, което започна през януари 2018 г., е бъдещето на Европа и младите хора. Парадоксално е, обаче, че България по-скоро има опит в това да мотивира младите хора да търсят бъдеще другаде и да не се завръщат у дома.

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Интервю на Радосвета Василева за онлайн предаването „Най-добрите хора, каузи и идеи“

На 28.02.2018 г. д-р Радосвета Василева даде интервю на живо за онлайн предаването „Най-добрите хора, каузи и идеи“ с Георги Станков. Тя коментира наболели теми, свързани с жалбата „Магнитски“ и с делото КТБ, в двойна роля – като пряк свидетел на събитията и като юрист.

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Vlog Post: #eu2018bg Some Realism about Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union

In December 2017, shortly before the Bulgarian government officially announced its priorities for its Presidency of the Council of the EU, I published a blog post entitled ‘The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU: The Emperor Has No Clothes.’ I explained why it is troublesome that a state which repeatedly violates EU law and struggles with corruption would set the agenda of the Council and why it has no capacity to lead in any of the areas it chose to focus on during the Presidency.

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