Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

IF A LAW IS NOT APPLIED IT IS STILL-BORN

Lyuben Kornezov, Deputy Chairman of 40th National Assembly, to the BANKER WeeklyMr. Kornezov, will the National Assembly manage to adopt in due time the laws that will ensure our country's admission to the EU in 2007?- By ratifying the treaty for Bulgaria's EU accession, we have undertaken a commitment to pass a number of legislative acts, connected with this country's membership in the community. According to our schedule, by the end of 2005 Parliament should approve 36 laws, directly connected with our EU accession. I can positively say that the national Assembly will fulfil its duty and will pass these legislative acts. As you see, the deputies won't go out on a holiday this summer and eight of the laws are already a fact. What is more important is if these acts would be really implemented in life. The problem in Bulgaria is not the lack of laws but the approval of texts which are not fulfilled in practice and are even distorted.One of the plenary sessions was cancelled last week as there were no draft bills ready...- Yes, on Wednesday we managed to pass just one law, because the other drafts had not been prepared by the commissions. But that was due to objective reasons, as the commissions were appointed only a week ago - on August 24. They had to be constituted and structured. This process takes time. Last week all commissions began their sessions and we are already 'well-fed' - if I could express myself in that way - for the plenary discussions and final adoption of laws. Legislation is juridical aerobatics and a law requires much preliminary information, gathering comparative materials, taking much efforts, and doing much work.Therefore, do you believe Bulgaria will manage to observe the set deadlines?- Practice over the last eight years since our contacts with the EU have become more intense shows that the Council of Ministers fulfils about 50% of its preliminary legislative programme. We have also worked out a schedule of the National Assembly which should be connected both with that of the Government and of the individual ministries, which also have a period for coordination. But hard as it may be, the 36 legislative acts could be passed if the work of Parliament is well-organised. Which are the laws of priority to be voted by the MPs?- The main remarks, made to Bulgaria by the EU are in the sphere of combating corruption and in the field of the judicial system. This practically means that a new Criminal Procedure Code, laws on legal assistance, on the administrative process, and on the responsibility of juristic persons (which is something new for Bulgaria), should be adopted. From a juristic point of view these acts will be ready towards the year-end. But I would like to stress once again that if a law is not applied in life, it is still-born.Are the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code sufficient to satisfy EU's requirements?- The EU wants from us a quick and effective jurisdiction, i.e. not just a law on paper, but its administration as well. That is right, because effective jurisdiction is mainly necessary to Bulgarian citizens. Legislation contains principles, while the specific model is decided individually by each country, although it is a member of the EU. Here we come to a problem from a constitutional point of view, because in our Constitution (as well as in many others) the prosecutor's office is outside the judicial power, the investigation service is a constitutional body, and the court administers justice. Those who claim that the investigation service should be closed down or eliminated and transferred to the Interior Ministry hardly realize that it would not guarantee a quick and transparent process. Before the changes in end-1989 the investigation service was within the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The same people who want to close it down today were blaring forth 15 years ago that we were a police state, that it was socialism, citizens' civil rights were not protected, and therefore the investigation service should go out of the Interior Ministry. It is of course a forceful body and that is why I'm convinced that whoever goes there to conduct the investigation cannot have the liberty to make decisions by his free will because his fate depends on his boss (as the structure is militarized). A judge has much more liberty because he does not have a chief. The problem lies in the coordination between the bodies of the Interior Ministry, the investigator, the prosecutor, and the court. It is the inadequate coordination between them that leads to the dissatisfaction with the judicial system. The issue about the position of the prosecutor's office is being raised, too. There is not a single European or global model. In the USA, for instance, the justice minister is also Attorney General. Therefore, we may not seek arguments in other countries. Some of my colleagues, including those from my parliamentary group, propose an amendment to the Constitution, stipulating that the Prosecutor General should be elected by the National Assembly. The idea is that he would be controlled by Parliament and taken out of the judicial system. This is nothing new. In socialist times the Prosecutor General used to be appointed by the National Assembly. But won't that be a political appointment then?- Exactly. The National Assembly is the most politicized body with its 240 MPs who are members of political parties. Therefore, the party with a majority in parliament will elect its Prosecutor General and its Government, i.e. the most politicized body will appoint the Prosecutor General, as well as all his subordinates, and we want to depoliticize the institution. I don't believe, therefore, it's a good idea that to be done by Parliament. The present system is good - the Supreme Judicial Council proposes the nominated person to the President, he makes his appraisal and either issues a decree to appoint the Prosecutor General or returns it for a new proposal. The fact that the personality of the incumbent Prosecutor General might not be to someone's liking does not mean that we have to amend the Constitution and the laws. Our efforts should be directed to the efficiency of laws. What hampers the revealing of a demonstrative assassination (there are many such cases recently) and the arresting of the killer? Is it laws that are the reason?! Obviously, the people dealing with that lack standing.Would you explain in legal terms the statute of the Consultative Council of the tripartite ruling coalition. It should solve the problems within the coalition, but according to the Constitution, its decisions cannot be obligatory for the Government.- This Consultative Council is neither a constitutional, nor a legislative body. It does not exist from a legal point of view. I would say it is rather a political body between the three political formations which could only give recommendations, but may not issue acts and is not entitled to do that. I see it as a body where certain issues between the different political forces could be discussed in order to avoid frictions. Nothing more than exchange of stances and making decisions of a recommendatory character could be expected from it...The European Commission has already several times warned Bulgaria about its delay. Do you think there is a danger that our country's EU accession could be postponed?- There is always a danger, but let's hope that won't happen. Bulgaria's admission into the EU is a political act foremost, an act of good-will on the part of the big in the community. Was Greece or Portugal more prepared from an economic point of view when they joined the EU? Both countries were admitted due to political reasons. We have been tied to Romania as if by a naval string, no matter if we like it or not. As you can see they have problems, too. But if we pass the laws that are required from us by the EU and if there is a political stability in the country, the EU members could no easily say nay to our membership.

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