EC launches three infringement procedures against Bulgaria

The European Commission said on May 19 that it was advancing infringement proceedings against Bulgaria in three existing cases and opened new infringement proceedings under its latest infringement package.

The new case concerned Bulgaria’s failure to “ensure the correct implementation of Directive (EU) 2014/89 on maritime spatial planning”, the EC said.

Specifically, Sofia had not developed or submitted a marine spatial plan – intended to “organize human activities in marine areas in such a way as to meet various ecological, economic and social objectives” – before the date deadline of March 31, 2021.

Maritime policy is an area where Bulgaria has lagged behind in implementing EU regulations, forcing the Commission to refer the country before the European Court of Justice.

The letter of formal notice gives Bulgaria two months to respond, failing which the Commission could escalate the matter by sending a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure.

This is the case in three ongoing cases, for which Bulgaria has not provided a satisfactory answer, which prompted the Commission to intensify the infringement procedure.

The cases concern Bulgaria’s failure to communicate whether it has transposed EU rules on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment into national law, the lack of notification of national measures to transpose the European Directive on the electronic toll service (ETS), as well as the absence of notification to the Commission of measures transposing copyright and related rights in the digital single market .

In another existing case, the Commission chose to send a second letter of formal notice, rather than a reasoned opinion, asking for further clarifications on why Bulgaria has not yet implemented the new format card for residence permits for third-country nationals, in accordance with Regulation (EC) 1030/2002.

This regulation was updated in 2017 to introduce a new card format for residence permits with improved security features that rely on biometric data, but Bulgaria has not started issuing such permits, although it was required to do so by July 10, 2020.

(Berlaymont building, headquarters of the European Commission. Photo: JLogan)

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