ABOUT THE ABUNDANT LEGISLATION AND ITS “QUALITY”

Against a background of extraordinary epidemiological measures, political crisis and mass civil protests, July 2020 turned to be an extremely productive period for legislative activity. The unusually increased activeness is clearly visible compared to the previous months of 2020.

 

Table 1. Number of bills submitted to the National Assembly categorized by months and by sponsor for 2020

Month Total Number of Bills Number of Bills, introduced by the Council of Ministers Number of Bills, introduced by a MP
January 17 10 7
February 14 3 11
March 15 5 10
April 9 1 8
May 19 5 14
June 20 10 10
July 38 9 29

 

A possible reason for the increased work flow could be the summer parliamentary vacation, which is traditionally held in August. However, when reviewing the number of bills submitted to the National Assembly in July, for the last 10 years, this year’s results hold the honourable second place.

 

Table 2. Number of bills submitted to the National Assembly in July for the last 10 years, categorized by sponsor

Year Total Number of Bills Number of Bills, introduced by the Council of Ministers Number of Bills, introduced by a MP
July 2020 38 9 29
July 2019 23 10 13
July 2018 14 6 8
July 2017 25 5 20
July 2016 27 9 18
July 2015 47 17 30
July 2014 27 16 11
July 2013 21 7 14
July 2012 29 14 15
July 2011 31 10 21

 

The beginning of the intensive July legislative activity in a seemingly inexplicable way coincides with the protests against the Government and the Prosecutor General, which began on the evening of 9 July 2020. For the period 10-31 July 2020, 29 new bills were submitted to Parliament, only 5 of which by the Council of Ministers. It is a curious fact that on 10 July 2020, the day after the first night of the protests, an unprecedented number of bills per day (7) were submitted and all of them by MPs.

The “most popular” areas of regulation in this period are:

  1. Media: Law on Radio and Television – 2 draft proposals. The first bill amending and supplementing the Law on Radio and Television, submitted on 10.July 2020, envisages extension of the term of office of the Directors General of the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) and the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) from 3 to 5 years and specifies that they may be re-elected to the same office for not more than two consecutive terms;
  2. The social sphere: 3 bills amending and supplementing the Law on Social Services, 1 bill, amending and supplementing the Social Security Code, 1 bill, amending and supplementing the Law on Child Protection;
  3. Local government: 1 bill amending and supplementing the Law on Local Taxes and Fees and the Law on Local Government and Local Administration, respectively.

The above data once again demonstrate and confirm two phenomena which have already turned traditional for Bulgarian political life:

  1. Abundant and hasty, sometimes even spontaneous legislative activity, determined to a much greater extent by momentary and conjunctural circumstances than by some long-term strategy or programme, based on an objective, rational and evidence-based vision for the development of specific public policies;
  2. The bulk of bills are proposed by MPs, not by the Council of Ministers, contrary to practice in most EU and non-EU democracies.

These phenomena are largely indicative of the extent to which the current legislative process is protected against subjective influences, expressing interests different from those of the society and the extent to which this process contains means or mechanisms to ensure objectivity in legislative decision-making. The result is legislation of poor quality, which inevitably leads to negative consequences for a wide range of stakeholders. This conclusion is supported by entirely independent, external and official sources, as well.

The European Commission published its 2019 Annual Report “Monitoring the Application of European Union Law” on 31 July 2020[1]. Fully in line with the above conclusion of poor legislation and quite expectedly, the number of open infringement procedures against Bulgaria for the period 2015 – 2019 is steadily increasing.

 

Number of infringement cases against Bulgaria open on 31 December 2019 (2015-2019)

1

Source: The European Commission

More interesting, however, is the fact that the main reason for initiating infringement proceedings against Bulgaria is the late transposition of the EU law in the Bulgarian legislation.

 

Total of late transposition infringement cases against Bulgaria open on 31 December 2019 (2015-2019)

2

Source: The European Commission

 

 Total of new late transposition infringement cases against Bulgaria (2015-2019)

3

Source: The European Commission

 

The data on the infringement procedures against Bulgaria for the last five years are a solid quantitative indication for the low efficiency of the legislation adopted in our country against the indicator “compliance with EU law”, especially considering that the harmonization with the requirements of EU law is a favorite argument of both the Executive and the MPs for initiating legislative proposals.

According to the same report, the areas in which the Bulgarian legislation is non-compliant with the EU Law have an extremely wide scope of matter, including not exhausting all, the following:

  1. Inadequate consumer protection against unfair terms in contracts;
  2. Incorrect transposition of the Directive on criminal sanctions for market abuse;
  3. Non-compliance of the national legislation with the European rules for conducting public procurements and awarding concessions;
  4. Incorrect transposition of the Directive on attacks against information systems;
  5. Incorrect transposition of the Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;
  6. Incorrect transposition of the Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment;
  7. Incorrect transposition of the Industrial Emissions Directive (integrated pollution prevention and control).

[1] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/report-2019-annual-report-monitoring-application-eu-law_en.pdf; Detailed information on Bulgaria, available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/report-commission-2019-national-factsheet-bulgaria_en.pdf

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