Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania (CVM)
- Data di inizio: January 2007
The Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania provides for safeguard clauses for the first three years of the membership in three areas – general to the economy, the internal market and justice and home affairs. At the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union on 1 January 2007, certain weaknesses remained in both Member States in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria in the fight against organised crime. Therefore, the European Commission undertook to assist both countries in remedying these shortcomings and to regularly verify progress against specific benchmarks set for this purpose, through the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The CVM, set up as a transitional measure operating in the area of third safeguard clause, was officially introduced by two Commission Decisions adopted on 13 December 2006. Thus, for the first time in the history of the European Union newly acceded Member States were made subject to post-accession monitoring.
Under the CVM, six benchmarks were introduced for Bulgaria in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime, and for Romania – four benchmarks in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption. The benchmarks for Bulgaria deal with issues such as the independence, professionalism and efficiency of the judicial system, the fight against corruption and action being taken against organised crime. The benchmarks for Romania deal with the effectiveness and transparency of the judicial system, key institutions in areas like integrity and the fight against corruption at all levels, and corruption prevention.
The Bulgarian and Romanian governments agreed to report on a regular basis in addressing the benchmarks. The Commission reports on progress on a regular basis. The first report was issued on 27 June 2007. The reports contain the Commission's assessment and recommendations to the Bulgarian and Romanian authorities, and are complemented by a staff working document which sets out the Commission's detailed analysis against each of the benchmarks of the CVM.
Each Commission report, with its methodology and conclusions, is subsequently discussed and has always been endorsed in conclusions by the Council of Ministers.
In 2017 the CVM has reached its tenth anniversary and the Commission in its 2017 reports has taken a stock with an overview of the achievements, the challenges outstanding, and the remaining steps needed to achieve the CVM's objectives.
The European Commission set up a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for Bulgaria and Romania after their accession to the EU in order to evaluate their progress in addressing a number of outstanding issues in the areas of judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organised crime, as well as to see the two countries to develop the effective administrative and judicial systems needed to deliver on the obligations of EU membership and ensure correct application of EU laws, policies and programmes. Progress on judicial reform, corruption and organised crime also aims to allow Bulgarians and Romanians to enjoy their full rights as EU citizens.
The Mechanism is sustainable since it is operating by the European Commission. The CVM is institutionally supported also on the operational level through the ad hoc Working Party on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania that reports to Permanent Representative’s Committee. In terms of funding it also can be considered a sustainable practice.
The regular reports are accessible online, widely presented and debated officially and in the media.
CVM can be used in the future as a 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.
The Commission's assessments regular reports are based on careful analysis and monitoring, drawing on a continuous dialogue between the Bulgarian and Romanian authorities and the Commission services. The reports have also benefitted from contacts with other EU Member States, civil society, international organisations, independent experts and a variety of other sources.
The CVM relies on partnership of the EC with the National Authorities and civil society organisations in both countries. The other Member States are also involved in the implementation of CVM by both – their domestic procedures for reviewing the Commission’s regular reports, and their influence on the Council of the European Union’s conclusions.
The costs include the expenditure of the EC monitoring missions, those for operational support, preparing, publishing and presenting the progress reports.
Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania, available at:
The reports on progress in Bulgaria and Romania, available at:
Press release of the EC, 25 January 2017,
Stefanov, R./Karaboev S., Improving governance in Bulgaria: Evaluating the Impact of EU Conditionality through Policy and Financial Assistance, 2016, available at: http://anticorrp.eu/publications/improving-governance-in-bulgaria-evaluating-the-impact-of-eu-conditionality-through-policy-and-financial-assistance/
Markov, D., The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism Three Years Later: What Has Been Done and What Is Yet to Come, 2010, available at: http://www.csd.bg/artShow.php?id=15187
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The Commission continues to assess and support the progress of Bulgaria and Romania in a number of defined areas in line with the decision setting up the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. It is shaped to drive reform forward to secure irreversible results.
The relevance of the mechanism is going beyond the areas of judicial reform and fight against corruption and organised crime, as well as beyond the domestic politics in Bulgaria and Romania. The post-accession monitoring has influenced the EU enlargement policy by placing areas of Judiciary and Fundamental Rights as well of Justice, Freedom and Security at the heart of the accession process.
The CVM is playing an important role in both countries as a driver for reform, as well as a tool to track progress over the last decade. The impressive track record of the Romanian National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and National Integrity Agency (ANI) so far, though not always unambiguous, highlights the effectiveness of the CVM in this regard. Bulgaria has also undertaken a number of legislative and institutional reforms (two important national strategies on judicial reform and the fight against corruption), but is yet to translate reforms into tangible progress e. g. in terms of bringing high level cases to a successful conclusion in court. Among the reasons for the lack of rapid progress is the fact that the CVM failed to introduce any conditionality linked to EU assistance.
Although the activities of the CVM can be considered as cost-efficient, its efficiency has been questioned following the expiry of the main safeguard clauses that used to serve as potential sanctions for lack of compliance. The CVM is used more as a political instrument rather than a technical one, which stands out even more clearly after once the safeguard clauses expired in 2010.
The CVM has an important role in Bulgaria and Romania. for providing assistance to both countries to make progress with the rule of law through judicial reform, combatting corruption and (for Bulgaria) organised crime as well as a tool to track progress.
Many reforms in the monitored areas were undertaken and pushed forward. However, the CVM lacks enforcement mechanisms and concrete sanctions for noncompliance. No effective punitive measures were applied.
The CVM is not making direct links with other policy areas. As the Commission underlines, it does not therefore consider that it is appropriate to link the CVM to decisions in other areas, such as eligibility for European Structural and Investment Funds or the access to the Schengen area.
The EC confirmed that it stands ready to provide further assistance to help reinforcing the irreversibility of progress and therefore bring the mechanism to a conclusion. According to the Commission the CVM will end when all of the six benchmarks applying to Bulgaria and all of the four benchmarks applying to Romania are satisfactorily met. The CVM is continuously sustained through the involvement of the other Member States that regularly expressed their will to continue to support Romania and Bulgaria in meeting their objectives as set out by the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism within the fields of justice and the rule of law. Moreover, once the CVM comes to an end, the Commission would also provide support to the sustainability of reform by helping accountability (2017 Report for Bulgaria and 2017 Report for Romania).