Today, the European Commission formally closes the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for Bulgaria and Romania. The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism had been introduced at the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union in 2007 as a transitional measure to facilitate progress in the fields of judicial reform and anti-corruption, as well as on organised crime for Bulgaria. The Commission has now repealed the two decisions that had established that mechanism.
President Ursula von der Leyen said: "I would like to congratulate Bulgaria and Romania for the significant progress they made since their accession to the EU. The rule of law is one of our fundamental common values as a Union and both Member States have delivered on important reforms in these past years. Today we recognise these efforts by putting an end to the CVM. Work can now continue under the annual rule of law cycle as for all Member States.”
Since the start of the CVM in 2007, the Commission has regularly reported on progress on the relevant reforms in Bulgaria and Romania. In October 2019, the Commission published its last CVM report on Bulgaria and in November 2022 the last one on Romania. For both Member States the Commission concluded that they had satisfactorily met their obligations set out under the CVM at the time of accession to the Union and needed to continue working to implement specific commitments listed in the conclusions of the reports. This work was completed in June 2023.
On 5 July 2023, the Commission informed both the Council and the European Parliament of its intention to formally close the CVM for Bulgaria and Romania after all the specific commitments listed in the conclusions of the CVM reports had now been implemented. In line with the decisions setting up the mechanism, the CVM ends when all the benchmarks are satisfactorily met. Today's decisions reflect the Commission's conclusion that this is now the case for both Member States.
The Commission looks forward to continuing cooperation with Bulgaria and Romania under the annual Rule of Law Cycle as for all Member States.
When they joined the EU on 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania still had progress to make in the fields of judicial reform and anti-corruption, as well as in organised crime for Bulgaria. The Commission set up the CVM as a transitional measure to assist the two countries to remedy these shortcomings. Work under the CVM has been ongoing since 2007 to encourage and follow the reform process, based on the benchmarks. As set out in the CVM Decisions of 2006, the CVM is brought to an end when all the benchmarks are satisfactorily met.
In January 2017, the Commission undertook a comprehensive assessment of progress over the ten years of the mechanism, which gave a clear picture of the significant progress made. The Commission set out a number of specific recommendations which, when met in an irreversible manner by both Member States, would suffice to end the CVM process.
In its October 2019 CVM report, the Commission concluded that Bulgaria had fulfilled the remaining CVM recommendations satisfactorily, and that Bulgaria had made sufficient progress in meeting its commitments at the time of its accession to the EU and that all benchmarks can be satisfactorily closed. Bulgaria still needed to continue working to implement specific commitments listed in the conclusions of the report, a work that has been completed in June 2023. Since then, Bulgaria is no longer monitored or reported upon under the CVM and it is monitored within the annual Rule of Law Cycle with the Commission's annual Rule of Law Report.
Similarly, in the November 2022 CVM report, the Commission concluded that Romania has made sufficient progress in meeting its commitments at the time of its accession to the EU and that all benchmarks can be satisfactorily closed. Romania still needed to continue working to implement specific commitments listed in the conclusions of the report, a work that has been completed in June 2023.
After informing the Council and the Parliament in July 2023 of its intention to close the CVM, the Commission has today adopted two Decisions repealing Commission Decisions 2006/928/EC and 2006/929/EC, thereby formally closing the CVM.
The evolution of the Union's rule of law landscape has given a new context for the Commission's cooperation with Bulgaria and Romania. In particular, the Rule of Law Cycle, launched by the Commission in 2019, has provided an ongoing framework with a long-term perspective to accompany sustainable reform, with both Bulgaria and Romania as with other Member States. As part of that cycle, the Commission's annual Rule of Law Report, which since 2022 also includes recommendations to the Member States, acts as a preventive tool, deepening dialogue and joint awareness of rule of law issues. It also enables the monitoring of the implementation of many of Bulgaria's and Romania's agreed reforms. Their progress has also been monitored where relevant within the framework of the European Semester. /BGNES