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Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification

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Title: Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification  
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Subject: Opt-outs in the European Union, Multi-speed Europe, European integration, Politics of the European Union, 2007 enlargement of the European Union
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Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification

The Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (CVM) is safeguard measure invoked by the European Commission when a new member or acceding state of the European Union has failed to implement commitments undertaken in the context of the accession negotiations in the fields of the Area of freedom, security and justice or internal market policy.

Contents

  • Background 1
  • Legal base 2
  • Implementation 3
    • Benchmarks for Romania 3.1
    • Benchmarks for Bulgaria 3.2
  • Table 4
  • Current Developments regarding Bulgaria 5
  • Future usage 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Background

Common practice in the EU is that during accession negotiations there are agreed some temporary transitional periods after accession of new states for derogation of application for specific parts of the acquis communautaire, because of difficulties either for the new member state (for example environmental regulations for large combustion plants) or for the old member states (for example free movement of workers).[2] Such temporary transitional periods in regards to particular member states are also implemented when various new pieces of EU legislation are adopted (or in a new treaty adoption or amendment).

In some cases the derogation is not temporary, but permanent. Such derogations could be one of the major Opt-outs in the European Union (formulated in a treaty) or some minor derogations like the exemption of Sweden from the snus ban (formulated in EU legislation).

Both an opt-out and an CVM constitute a suspension of the application of relevant provisions of EU law in regards to a particular member state, but in contrast to the opt-outs, that are established on initiative of the state concerned, the CVM is established on initiative of the Commission.

In contrast to the temporary derogations, that are automatically discontinued after the end of the transitional period, the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification is permanent and its discontinuation is conditional only on the positive assessment of benchmarks fulfillment in the regular reports issued by the Commission. This is similar to the permanent derogations on Eurozone and Schengen Area for new member states (formulated in accession treaties), whose discontinuation is also conditional the on fulfillment of benchmarks (like the convergence criteria) and similarly assessed in regular progress reports. According to the treaties the new member states are obliged to fulfill the benchmarks for discontinuation of both these permanent derogations and the CVMs, but some of them deliberately delay these processes.[3] The CVM is thus different from the Enhanced co-operation mechanism,[4] where generally all EU members are free to opt-in at any time into an already established Enhanced co-operation initiative, without preconditions.

Legal base

The accession treaties include provisions such as:

Implementation

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The internal market safeguard clause has not been invoked so far. The safeguard clause for criminal law and civil matters was invoked for the first time in regards to the countries of the 2007 enlargement.

On 13 December 2006 the Commission established the following mechanisms for cooperation and verification of progress:

These measures entered into force as of the first day of accession, 1.1.2007.

The Commission assessed that "When they joined the EU on 1 January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria still had progress to make in the fields of judicial reform, corruption and organised crime. To smooth the entry of both countries and at the same time safeguard the workings of its policies and institutions, the EU decided to establish a special "cooperation and verification mechanism" to help them address these outstanding shortcomings."

The Commission issues reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism every 6 months on progress with judicial reform, the fight against corruption and, concerning Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime.

So far, no suspensions are enforced, but the possibility for those is stated in paragraph 7 of the decisions for CVM establishment from 2006.

Benchmarks for Romania

  1. Ensure a more transparent, and efficient judicial process notably by enhancing the capacity and accountability of the Superior Council of Magistracy. Report and monitor the impact of the new civil and penal procedures codes.
  2. Establish, as foreseen, an integrity agency with responsibilities for verifying assets, incompatibilities and potential conflicts of interest, and for issuing mandatory decisions on the basis of which dissuasive sanctions can be taken.
  3. Building on progress already made, continue to conduct professional, non-partisan investigations into allegations of high-level corruption.
  4. Take further measures to prevent and fight against corruption, in particular within the local government.

Benchmarks for Bulgaria

  1. Adopt constitutional amendments removing any ambiguity regarding the independence and accountability of the judicial system.
  2. Ensure a more transparent and efficient judicial process by adopting and implementing a new judicial system act and the new civil procedure code. Report on the impact of these new laws and of the penal and administrative procedure codes, notably on the pre-trial phase.
  3. Continue the reform of the judiciary in order to enhance professionalism, accountability and efficiency. Evaluate the impact of this reform and publish the results annually.
  4. Conduct and report on professional, non-partisan investigations into allegations of high-level corruption. Report on internal inspections of public institutions and on the publication of assets of high-level officials.
  5. Take further measures to prevent and fight corruption, in particular at the borders and within local government.
  6. Implement a strategy to fight organised crime, focussing on serious crime, money laundering as well as on the systematic confiscation of assets of criminals. Report on new and ongoing investigations, indictments and convictions in these areas.

Table

  EU member state with at least one conditional acquis suspension
  EU member state without a conditional acquis suspension
country permanent acquis suspension conditional on benchmarks to be met by member state
Schengen Area EMU Criminal law
mutual recognition
Civil matters
mutual recognition
 Bulgaria suspension only potential suspension only potential
 Croatia
 Cyprus
 Czech Republic
 Hungary
 Lithuania
 Poland
 Romania suspension only potential suspension only potential
 Sweden
  — fully participating in policy area
  — suspension of the application of relevant provisions

Current Developments regarding Bulgaria

In January 2014, the European Commission issued a report on progress in Bulgaria where in a very diplomatic language, and without allocating specific guilt to any political party, government or person, Brussels said that a lot has still to be done.[8]

Future usage

More than three years have passed since the 2007 enlargement to Bulgaria and Romania, so as of 2014 no new safeguards can be invoked.

Croatia acceded to the European Union on 1 July 2013, but no safeguard clauses were invoked for it.[9]

See also

References

  1. ^ Results of the accession negotiations with Croatia
  2. ^ The latest end dates of transitional measures are the following:
    Treaty of Accession 2011: 2024 for Croatia;[1]
    Treaty of Accession 2005: 2018 for Romania and 2014 for Bulgaria;
    Treaty of Accession 2003: 2017 for Poland, various earlier dates for the rest of the signatories;
    Acts of Accession 1994: Austria, Finland, Sweden;
    Acts of Accession 1985: Portugal, Spain;
    Acts of Accession 1979: Greece;
    Acts of Accession 1972: Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom.
  3. ^ For example Sweden in regards to Euro adoption.
  4. ^ A procedure by witch some EU member states are allowed to establish advanced integration or cooperation in an area within EU structures but without the other members being involved.
  5. ^ a b Act of Accession of Bulgaria and Romania
  6. ^ Romania CVM
  7. ^ Bulgaria CVM
  8. ^ Report on progress in Bulgaria
  9. ^ EURACTIV - Croatia

External links

  • Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification for Bulgaria and Romania
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