Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Monday, 4 February 2008

EU urges action on Balkan graft

Romanian workers at sunset
The report says public confidence in Romania needs to be stronger

The European Commission has warned Romania and Bulgaria they must do more to tackle high-level corruption.

Both countries joined the European Union in 2007 and were threatened with penalties if they failed to reform their justice systems.

An interim report says that so far neither has shown convincing results.

A spokesman said that 10 important corruption cases in Romania had been delayed and some of the cases had been compromised because of procedure.

He said that public confidence in the ability to deal with high-level corruption had to be strengthened.

We've had quite a poor first half, we expect a much better second half. None of us wants to see extra time or penalties
Mark Gray, European Commission spokesman

Last December, Romania's Justice Minister Tudor Chiuariu resigned after eight months in the job because of an investigation for alleged corruption. He denied wrongdoing.

The European Commission's report sees as positive the work of Romania's National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA).

It says the DNA has requested permission to start criminal investigations into eight serving or former ministers and has begun investigations into appointments of senior prosecutors.

Organised crime

Apart from high-level corruption, Bulgaria is told to work harder to tackle organised crime.

In its last report the commission singled out the problem of contract killings.

Now it says that from a sample of 10 high-profile cases of organised crime between 2000 and 2007, only one has been completed. But it adds that there does appear to have been a positive trend in recent months.

Commission spokesman Mark Gray said Bulgaria needed to establish a better track record in investigation, prosecution and judgement of organised crime and corruption.

Final reports will be issued on both countries later this year, and the EU has the power to impose legal sanctions if it is unhappy with progress.

Mr Gray described the situation in footballing terms.

"We've had quite a poor first half, we expect a much better second half. None of us wants to see extra time or penalties and that's why we expect the two governments to improve in the second half."

Romanian justice minister quits
10 Dec 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Romania
04 Dec 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Bulgaria
29 Jan 08 |  Country profiles

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