CSD.BG RSShttp://csd.bg/en_ENCSD.BGSun, 26 May 2019 07:55:49 +0000Sun, 26 May 2019 07:55:49 +0000events-1990RACCOMBAT – Integration of foreigners and prevention of racism, xenophobia and intolerancehttps://csd.bg/events/event/raccombat-integration-of-foreigners-and-prevention-of-racism-xenophobia-and-intolerance/On 15 May 2019 the Center for the Study of Democracy held an international conference devoted to integration of foreigners and the prevention of racism, xenophobia and intolerance within the framework of the RACCOMBAT initiative, dealing with social orientation of refugees and migrants as tool to prevent and counter acts of hatred against them. The conference gathered representatives of social services, the Employment Agency, the State Agency for Refugees with the Council of Ministers, law enforcement authorities, integration agencies and NGO service providers from Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium, Austria, Greece and Latvia.On 15 May 2019 the Center for the Study of Democracy held an international conference devoted to integration of foreigners and the prevention of racism, xenophobia and intolerance within the framework of the RACCOMBAT initiative, dealing with social orientation of refugees and migrants as tool to prevent and counter acts of hatred against them. The conference gathered representatives of social services, the Employment Agency, the State Agency for Refugees with the Council of Ministers, law enforcement authorities, integration agencies and NGO service providers from Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium, Austria, Greece and Latvia.

During the conference opening Mr Mathijs le Rutte, UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria outlined the main challenges before the integration of foreigners in the educational sphere and the avoidance of acts of racism and discrimination through critical thinking and mobilisation of public effort. Dr Maria Yordanova, Senior Fellow with the Law Program of the Center, emphasized on the importance of the topic of migration and integration in the organisation’s research and its contribution to strengthening the capacity of responsible institutions. Miriana Ilcheva, Senior Analyst with the Law Program, presented the main conclusions of the RACCOMBAT initiative, the good practices it gathered and its guidelines on incorporating tolerance and mutual respect in language tuition and social orientation of foreigners.

In the conference’s first panel, devoted to the integration challenges before institutions and NGOs on central and local level, Dr Isabella Meier, Researcher at the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Graz, Austria, outlined the main particularities of the integration models, led, respectively, by the state and civil society representatives. Vladimir Milev, Project Coordinator, Bulgarian Council for Refugees and Migrants, Athena Konstantinou, Social Scientist with the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency, Greece and Els de Wacker, Head of Social Orientation Department, Atlas Antwerp, Belgium described their countries’ systems of social orientation of migrants and the main difficulties both before developed integration models and those meeting huge refugee inflow and unfavourable material conditions.

The event’s second panel looked at the RACCOMBAT initative’s main topic – the prevention of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. Prof Dirk Vanheule and Sanne van de Pol from the Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium outlined how the co-existence of the host society and foreigners stands within the system of fundamental rights. Robert Bosiger, Project Manager, Weichenstellwerk Graz, Austria, Angelina Kaneva, Protection and Fundraising specialist at Caritas Sofia and Fabrice Ciaccia, Project Manager at CRI Charleroi, Belgium presented good practices in training refugees and migrants on human rights and in the capacity building of training providers.

After an introduction on the importance of integration support to foreigners by Agnese Lace, Senior Policy Analyst at PROVIDUS, Latvia, the conference’s third panel gave the word to representatives of leading integration entities from several EU Member States. Florina Dragulin, Refugee Caseworker at the Jesuit Refugee Service, Romania, Ilze Dūmiņa, Project Manager at the Society Integration Foundation Latvia and Yoana Argirova, Social Worker at the Refugee-Migrant Service, Bulgarian Red Cross outlined where integration and the overall support for migrants fall within the general context of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable social groups.
In the event’s last panel, Annie Camarioti, International Projects Co-ordinator, Center for European Constitutional Law, Greece and Gabriela Ionescu, International Projects Expert, psychologist, Pro Refugiu, Romania described the policy and psychological aspects of racism and discrimination as introduction to the presentation of some of Bulgaria’s most successful practices in the inclusion of foreigners into the host society. Milena Karakanova, Co-ordinator, Bread houses Sofia, Bulgaria, Miroslava Georgieva, Project Co-ordinator, Tulip Foundation, Bulgaria and Panayot Chafkarov, Project Co-ordinator, Multi Kulti Collective, Bulgaria tackled various aspects of intercommunal communication, fighting stereotypes and the strive to make refugees and migrants feel ‘at home’ in the country and among its people.

In the last part of the conference, Emiliya Bratanova van Harten, Integration Associate at UNHCR Bulgaria presented conclusions from the foreign and national experiences shared during the event and the recommendations of UNHCR and the integration community towards Bulgarian institutions.

 

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events-1988The Right to Free Movement of Same-Sex Families in the EUhttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-right-to-free-movement-of-same-sex-families-in-the-eu/Recently released data from a national representative survey on attitudes towards LGBT people in Bulgarian society reveal a worrying trend - the attitude towards LGBT people in Bulgaria in recent years has been regressing. The share of people rejecting the right of LGBT to live their lives as they wish has increased from 18% to 25% between 2012 and 2018. By comparison, in 2008 this percentage was 30%, according to European Social Survey data. The social distance between the general population and LGBT communities has also increased. A big number of people feel relatively to strongly uncomfortable to have LGBT neighbors: 63% if they are bisexual; 65% if they are lesbians; 66% if they are gay men; and 68% if they are trans people. By comparison, according to the European Values Survey data, the rejectors in 1999 were 54% and 51% in 2008.Recently released data from a national representative survey on attitudes towards LGBT people in Bulgarian society reveal a worrying trend - the attitude towards LGBT people in Bulgaria in recent years has been regressing. The share of people rejecting the right of LGBT to live their lives as they wish has increased from 18% to 25% between 2012 and 2018. By comparison, in 2008 this percentage was 30%, according to European Social Survey data. The social distance between the general population and LGBT communities has also increased. A big number of people feel relatively to strongly uncomfortable to have LGBT neighbors: 63% if they are bisexual; 65% if they are lesbians; 66% if they are gay men; and 68% if they are trans people. By comparison, according to the European Values Survey data, the rejectors in 1999 were 54% and 51% in 2008.

In this unfavorable context, on 9 May 2019, the Center for the Study of Democracy took part in a discussion on "The Right to Free Movement of Same-Sex Families in the EU".

The main focus of the event was presenting data from the report "Free movement of EU citizens - rights and challenges for same-sex families in the Republic of Bulgaria", which review of the rights guaranteed to EU citizens and an analysis of the measures and deficiencies in the implementation of the Directive in Bulgaria, a review of administrative and judicial practice in the country and data from a national survey of same-sex couples with recognized status in other EU Member States who reside temporarily or live in Bulgaria. Another highlight at the event was the presentation of a petition urging the leaders of the European institutions to take measures to protect same-sex families in the EU. The petition is addressed to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU and is backed by 17 758 signatures of citizens from across the European Union.

 

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events-1984Innovative approaches in measuring the illegal market for cigarettes and the institutional counteractionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/innovative-approaches-in-measuring-the-illegal-market-for-cigarettes-and-the-institutional-counterac/The illicit tobacco market has been one of the largest criminal markets in Bulgaria over the past three decades. The set of indicators used by the institutions in assessing the work of the competent general and regional directorates in the field of illicit trade in tobacco products mainly regard the the number of registered offenses, the number of apprehended perpetrators and the amounts of illegal cigarettes being seized.

Opportunities for identifying innovative approaches to measuring the size of the illegal cigarette market as well as the evaluating effectiveness of the counteraction applied by the various competent services were discussed during an expert round table held at the Center for the Study of Democracy on 24 April 2019. A statistical model resulting in an integrated evaluation index was presented to executives and experts from all competent institutions as well as representatives of the leading companies in the field by the Center’s experts. The model takes into consideration a number of variables identified as highly influential by means of regression and correlation analysis. These variables were observed in two categories based on their character – either enabling and suppressing the market, and include the amount of seized products, the strength of the police force, the economic environment and the criminogenic activity, all on calculated on regional level. Changes in the leadership of the regional police structures, which often lead to an increase in the amounts of seized products, the overlapping competences between institutions, leading to increased effectiveness, as well as the improved counteraction as a result of systematic data collection and analysis of data sets in all competent institutions were identified as the major external factors that have strong influence on the market. Particular attention was paid to the fact that the cooperation between the Customs Agency and the General and Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior since 2015 (the first public release of the Empty Pack Survey (EPS) together with the improved information collection processes lead to the availability of a set of "good data", an improved environment for scientific research and increased capacity for identifying anomalies.

The event takes place under the initiative "Illegal Trade in Tobacco Products and the Balkan Route: Overcoming Institutional Weaknesses and Corruption" and is funded by PMI-IMPACT - a global initiative to combat illegal trade and related crimes.

 

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events-1982The Decarbonisation of the Bulgarian Economy: European and National Perspectiveshttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-decarbonisation-of-the-bulgarian-economy-european-and-national-perspectives/Forthcoming in English

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events-1986Tue, 23 Apr 2019 14:11:00 +0000Cultural and Civic Orientation of Asylum Seekers and Beneficiaries of International Protectionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/cultural-and-civic-orientation-of-asylum-seekers-and-beneficiaries-of-international-protection/In search for solutions to address gaps in the reception and integration system for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in Bulgaria, the Center for the Study of Democracy developed a training module to aid the work of trainers in providing cultural and civic orientation to refugees in the country. The publication provides information on key topics relating to the cultural and civic orientation as well as a package of training methods and techniques for group wirk. In addition, it provides a comprehensive training program offering a systematic training approach and an interactive learning process to acquaint refugees with the host society’s living, civic, social and cultural milieu. In search for solutions to address gaps in the reception and integration system for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in Bulgaria, the Center for the Study of Democracy developed a training module to aid the work of trainers in providing cultural and civic orientation to refugees in the country. The publication provides information on key topics relating to the cultural and civic orientation as well as a package of training methods and techniques for group wirk. In addition, it provides a comprehensive training program offering a systematic training approach and an interactive learning process to acquaint refugees with the host society’s living, civic, social and cultural milieu.  

On April 23, 2019 the Center for the Study of Democracy organised a seminar to present the finalized training module to state institutions and civic organisations designing policy and providing services to refugees and migrants. Keynote speakers during the event were Ms. Yanita Manolova, Director of the Social Activity and Adaptation Directorate at the State Agency for Refugees and Ms. Emiliya Bratanova, Integration Expert at UNHCR Bulgaria. Dr. Mila Mancheva, Director of the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main aims and components of the published training module. Ms. Katerina Stoyanova, Director of CVS – Bulgaria, provided a review of the main observations and recommendations stemming from an eight-month testing of the module through a total of 50 training sessions for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection.   

Seminar participants took part in a discussion about the modalities of ownership transfer of the module and its use in the framework of existing programs for refugee support as well as in the context of future measures and programs for adaptation and integration of persons from this target group. Representatives of the State Agency for Refugees, Employment Agency, National Agency for Professional Education, Sofia Municipality, Districts of “Vitosha” and “Krasno Selo”, UNHCR, Bulgarian Red Cross, and Sofia University took active part in the discussion. The event served to outline some first steps in the inclusion of the training module in the work of some of the organisations providing support to asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in the country.

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events-1980Thu, 18 Apr 2019 16:00:00 +0000Standards for Forced-Return Monitoring in Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/standards-for-forced-return-monitoring-in-bulgaria/The issue of forced-return monitoring is a constituent part of the common European return policy, which is regarded as one of the highest priorities of the common EU migration policy. The importance of return as a tool to reduce irregular migration and migrant smuggling, as well as the issue of improving the systems for carrying out returns (voluntary or forced) are discussed in basic EU documents, such as the European Agenda on Migration (2015), the EU Action Plan on return (2015, 2017), the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling 2015 – 2020 (2015), as well as the Return Handbook (2015, 2017). The obligation on the Member States to implement forced-return monitoring was introduced by Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals.

Aimed to support the establishment of such a system in Bulgaria, the Center for the Study of Democracy developed Standards for Forced-Return Monitoring and presented them during a policy briefing on April 18, 2019. Тhe policy briefing gathered representatives from the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior and members of the diplomatic community in Sofia.

During the policy briefing, several main recommendations for the development of legal framework governing the status of the organizations carrying out forced-return monitoring were presented and discussed, e.g. provisions on terms and procedures for selecting monitoring organizations and their mandate, establishment of procedures for conducting forced-return monitoring, ensuring that the MoI’s Migration Directorate provide timely information about all upcoming forced-return operations, as well as guaranteeing targeted funding to ensure sustainability of the system.

 

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events-1978Tue, 02 Apr 2019 16:16:00 +0000Social Orientation of Foreigners and Counteracting Racism and Xenophobiahttps://csd.bg/events/event/social-orientation-of-foreigners-and-counteracting-racism-and-xenophobia/On 2 April 2019 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a national training seminar on integration of foreigners, social orientation and counteracting racism and xenophobia. The seminar was part of the RACCOMBAT initiative, tackling the social orientation of refugees and migrants as tool for prevention and fighting hate and intolerance against them. The event gathered representatives of social services, the State Agency for Refugees with the Council of Ministers, law enforcement authorities and a multitude of service providing NGOs.

In her opening remarks Petya Karayaneva, Protection Officer at UNHCR Bulgaria, elaborated on UNHCR’s role throughout refugee crises and in countering prejudice and hatred against refugees in Bulgaria. Miriana Ilcheva, Senior Analyst at the Law Program of the Center, introduced the RACCOMBAT initiative and its accomplishments in including fundamental rights, tolerance and mutual respect throughout the language tuition and social orientation of foreigners.

During the training’s first panel, devoted to social orientation of foreigners in Bulgaria, Yanita Manolova, director of Social work and Adaptation Directorate with the State Agency for Refugees, outlined the activities of the Agency in receiving, informing about key rights and obligations and ensuring safe environment and prevention of abuse for children and adults seeking international protection. Violeta Galabova from the Refugee-Migrant Service of the Bulgarian Red Cross presented the various activities of the Red Cross on improving the situation and social orientation of refugees and migrants in Bulgaria. Katerina Stoyanova from CVS Bulgaria emphasized the lack of a common framework for language tuition and integration of foreigners and presented another initiative, led by the Center for the Study of Democracy, INTEGRA-TRAIN, aiming to create a handbook on orientation of foreign citizens. Radostina Pavlova from the Center for Legal Aid Voice in Bulgaria criticized the lack of holistic approach in migration management in Bulgaria and sketched the various models and extent of state intervention in the integration trajectory and the general deficiencies in the work of administration, substantially affecting its work with foreigners.

The second panel was devoted to presenting good practices from Bulgaria in social orientation of refugees and migrants as tool to counter racism and xenophobia. Angelina Kaneva from Caritas Sofia described the experience of the organization in holding sessions on fundamental rights and countering gender based violence. Emilia Bratanova van Harten from UNHCR Bulgaria outlined the main principles of equality, the structural deficiencies of Bulgaria’s integration system and the multitude of print and online information materials aiming to orient foreigners about Bulgarian realities. The Talk with Me initiative on language mentorship of refugees and its potential to empower foreigners against racism and xenophobia was presented by Miroslava Georgieva, project co-ordinator at the Tulip Foundation. Zdrava Vodenicharova and Sandra Topalska from the Bread Houses Network elaborated on the events of the Network offering mixed bread making sessions for migrants and host communities.

The discussions throughout the seminar looked at topics such as state and NGO led integration models, the need for sustainable state financing, the lack of systematic approach in introducing integration components and the necessity for the state to offer refugees opportunities to integrate themselves. Questions were also raised about the blurred borders between racism and discrimination and structural problems, for example in hiring beneficiaries of international protection, and the importance of housing support for foreigners.

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events-1975Wed, 03 Apr 2019 10:00:00 +0000Assessing the Impact of Criminal Proceedings on the Social Situation of Suspects and Accusedhttps://csd.bg/events/event/assessing-the-impact-of-criminal-proceedings-on-the-social-situation-of-suspects-and-accused/On 28 March 2019 in the Palace of Justice in Pernik the Center for the Study of Democracy, with the support of the District Court of Pernik, held a training on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused. Members of the judiciary and law enforcement as well as NGOs took part in the training.

Judge Kalin Batalski, president of the District Court in Pernik, welcomed the participants, expressing his satisfaction with the visit of the CSD team and hope for future meetings and co-operation. In her opening remarks Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of CSD’s Law Program, outlined the Centre’s long experience in working in the criminal justice and fundamental rights areas, as well as the key research priorities in studying the situation of suspects and accused. She acquainted the audience with basic facts and arguments regarding the impact of criminal proceedings, and especially of compulsory measures, on those persons and elaborated on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights against Bulgaria regarding violations of the presumption of innocence.

In her presentation on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused, Miriana Ilcheva, senior analyst in the Law Program of the Center, outlined the main accomplishments of the organisation’s initiative ‘ARISA – Assessing the risk of social isolation of suspects and accused’ and in particular the national reports on Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Belgium and the report on the factors affecting the social status of suspects and accused. Special attention was given to the Handbook on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused and the proposed methodology for assessing the risk of social isolation during the proceedings. The handbook contains eleven factors of impact by proceedings, and especially by compulsory measures, on persons – family, home, community, children, dependants, employment, education, economic situation, social life, media exposure, political participation – as well as short explanations what these are, why they are important, what their impact on persons might be, what authorities should check, case-law examples as well as additional references on each of the topics. The proposed methodology contains a questionnaire on the impact of criminal proceedings on the suspects and accused, scales for such assessment and an interpretation grid for the respective levels of impact.

In the ensuing discussion the representatives of the judiciary and law enforcement claimed they were sure no abuse was made of compulsory measures within criminal proceedings and expressed their concern with the impact of media exposure on the suspects and accused and on the authorities leading the proceedings. The cases under the Law on the Liability of State and Municipalities for Damage and of the European Court of Human Rights were discussed, as well as the need for multidisciplinary approach to avoid the negative impact of proceedings on suspects and accused, and society as a whole. The representatives of NGOs supported the development of assessment tools for the risks of social isolation and measuring the impact of proceedings on the social situation of those charged with crime.

 

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events-1976Thu, 21 Mar 2019 11:29:00 +0000Assessing the Impact of Criminal Proceedings on the Social Situation of Suspects and Accusedhttps://csd.bg/events/event/assessing-the-impact-of-criminal-proceedings-on-the-social-situation-of-suspects-and-accused-1/On 21 March 2019 in Plovdiv the Center for the Study of Democracy held a training on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused. Members of the judiciary and law enforcement as well as attorneys took part in the training.On 21 March 2019 in Plovdiv the Center for the Study of Democracy held a training on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused. Members of the judiciary and law enforcement as well as attorneys took part in the training.

In her opening remarks Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of CSD’s Law Program, outlined the Centre’s long experience in working in the criminal justice and fundamental rights areas, as well as the key research priorities in studying the situation of suspects and accused. She acquainted the audience with basic facts and arguments regarding the impact of criminal proceedings, and especially of compulsory measures, on those persons and elaborated on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights against Bulgaria regarding violations of the presumption of innocence.

In his presentation on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused, Dimitar Markov, senior analyst and project director in the Law Program of the Center, outlined the main accomplishments of the organisation’s initiative ‘ARISA – Assessing the risk of social isolation of suspects and accused’ and in particular the national reports on Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Belgium and the report on the factors affecting the social status of suspects and accused. Special attention was given to the Handbook on assessing the impact of criminal proceedings on the social situation of suspects and accused and the proposed methodology for assessing the risk of social isolation during the proceedings. The handbook contains eleven factors of impact by proceedings, and especially by compulsory measures, on persons – family, home, community, children, dependants, employment, education, economic situation, social life, media exposure, political participation – as well as short explanations what these are, why they are important, what their impact on persons might be, what authorities should check, case-law examples as well as additional references on each of the topics. The proposed methodology contains a questionnaire on the impact of criminal proceedings on the suspects and accused, scales for such assessment and an interpretation grid for the respective levels of impact.

In the ensuing discussion the representatives of the judiciary expressed their satisfaction with the thorough review of case law the initiative’s team made. An attorney was of the opinion that it is difficult to assess whether the content of decisions, cited by the experts, reflect the conviction of the judges or the arguments of the defence which the judges had adopted.

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events-1942Tue, 19 Feb 2019 00:00:00 +0000Assessing Russian Economic and Political Influence in Southeastern Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/assessing-russian-economic-and-political-influence-in-southeastern-europe/On 19 February 2019, The Center for the Study of Democracy organised an expert workshop on “Assessing Russian Economic and Political Influence in Southeastern Europe” with participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Among the discussed topics were the Russian economic presence, the governance deficits exploited by Russian entities to penetrate strategic markets and the role of Russian soft power instruments for amplifying the strategic importance of economic dependencies. The discussion was financed by the National Endowment for Democracy and is part of a year-long study of the Russian economic and political influence in Southeastern Europe.

 

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events-1944Cultural and Civic Orientation of Women, Beneficiaries of International Protectionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/cultural-and-civic-orientation-of-women-beneficiaries-of-international-protection/In the context of the increased refugee inflows since 2014 the EU Member States had to design and implement practical solutions to address the gaps in their reception and integration systems. In the second half of 2018 the situation with refugee intake in some EU states has undergone changes, with Italy shifting its heretofore favorable integration approach towards refugees and Spain undergoing a much larger inflow of migrants than in recent years. Simultaneously, such changes in Italy and Spain coincide with decreased inflows of refugees moving through Bulgaria and Greece.


On February 7-8, 2019, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a seminar discussing the outcomes of pilot trainings for cultural and civic orientation and integration of women, beneficiaries of international protection in Bulgaria, Greece and Malta. The seminar gathered participants from policy institutes and service providing organisations in the asylum and migration field in five EU member states. It was part of an international initiative running since 2017  between the Center for the Study of Democracy (Bulgaria), the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (Greece), Melissa: Network of Migrant Women in Greece (Greece), the People for Change Foundation (Malta), Comissió Catalana d’Ajuda al Refugiat (Spain), Fondazione Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali (Italy) and Cooperation for Voluntary Service – Bulgaria. 


Seminar participants presented the thematic focus, the training methods and the general training approaches of the national modules for cultural and civic orientation of women beneficiaries of international protection developed in Bulgaria, Greece and Malta. In addition, they discussed the positive outcomes and the challenges encountered during the implementation of pilot training in the three countries. Four main questions relating to the successful implementation of trainings were put under discussion: assuring continuous attendance, successful cooperation within training teams (trainers, interpreters and guest-speakers), conducting labor orientation of refugee women who are reluctant to work and transferability of training modules. A set of recommendations were formulated to aid the finalization of the national training modules in Bulgaria, Greece and Malta and the subsequent transfer of ownership to relevant national actors. 
 

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events-1936Improving the situation of victims of crime and the co-operation of stakeholdershttps://csd.bg/events/event/improving-the-situation-of-victims-of-crime-and-the-co-operation-of-stakeholders/Practical skills of institutions for working with victims of crime and of domestic and gender-based violence need to be improved. This is the conclusion reached by the participants in the two-day training held on 22-23 January 2019 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. It gathered representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Social Assistance Agency, the Ombudsman, the State Agency for Refugees, the State Agency for the Protection of Children, the National Investigation Service, the National Anti-Trafficking Commission, medical establishments and NGOs. 

In her opening remarks Senior Commissioner Dr Blagorodna Makeva – Naydenova, deputy director of the National Police General Directorate (NPGD), Ministry of the Interior, outlined the co-operation between the Center for the Study of Democracy and the General Directorate in preparing a general referral mechanisms for victims, a victims’ right booklet and a mobile app on the rights of victims. Commissioner Makeva emphasized the role of the Directorate in the organization and implementation of the training and wished the participants success in the dialogue and exchange of experience for improving the situation of victims. 

On the first day of the training, Miriana Ilcheva, senior analyst with the Law Program of the Center, outlined the legal and ethical framework of victim protection and presented the parameters of the initiative within the framework of which the training was held. Inspector Desislava Viktorova from the Crimes against the Person sector of the NPGD and Inspector Penka Stoyanova from the Directorate, National Co-ordinator on Domestic Violence in the Ministry of the Interior, reviewed the internal acts of the Ministry and other institutions, co-ordinating the protection of victims, and the main difficulties police officers and other front line practitioners face in processing complaints about violence. The work on cases of sexual violence and the repeat and secondary victimisation, suffered by victims, was looked at in detail. Role plays were staged where participants discussed the specificities of immediate protection orders against domestic violence and the work with various vulnerable groups of victims.

On the second day of the training Inspectors Viktorova and Stoyanova presented the various co-ordination mechanisms among institutions in working with victims, including children. Ms Diyana Videva, member of the Management Board of the Demetra Association, presented the viewpoint of NGOs in the co-operation with competent authorities. 

Three case studies were presented and discussed, two on domestic violence and one on murder, where institutions and NGOs follow different models of co-operation and treating victims and show various weaknesses in their protection and support. In the ensuing discussion participants shared their experiences and concrete cases in working with victims of crime and domestic violence and expressed their gratitude for the practical directions received. Ideas were given for follow-up trainings, as well as for co-ordination mechanisms in the medical establishments for working with victims of violence and their referral to law enforcement.

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events-1934Wed, 19 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0000Unified Standards for Forced Return Monitoring in Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/unified-standards-for-forced-return-monitoring-in-bulgaria/Bulgaria is one of the 26 Member States of the EU (without Ireland and the United Kingdom), which are bound by the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. Article 8 (6) of the Directive introduces an obligation for all member states to create an effective system for forced return monitoring.

As a contribution to the fulfilment of this obligation for Bulgaria, on 19 December 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy and CVS-Bulgaria organized a final expert meeting, part of a national initiative for developing and implementing unified standards for forced return monitoring, realized with the financial support of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, co-financed by the European Union.

During the meeting, the Center for the Study of Democracy presented a guidebook with standards for forced return monitoring in Bulgaria. The guidebook was developed based on an exhaustive desk research on European and national regulations in the field, expert interviews and a visit for exchange of experience and good practices in Vienna, Austria. The standards were then put to practice by experts from CVS-Bulgaria and the Center for the Study of Democracy, who took part as monitors in forced return operations, executed by the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in Bulgaria. Following their practical testing and using the experience gathered from the field work, the standards were finalized and presented for discussion in front of specialists in the field of migration and forced return. Mr. Hristo Atanasov, Chief Expert in the National Preventive Mechanism and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Directorate within the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria joined the first part of the event by presenting the experience of the Ombudsman institution in the field.

In the second part of the meeting recommendations were made and discussed on how to develop the regulatory framework as well as how to set up a national mechanism for forced return monitoring in Bulgaria. The event was attended by participants from 3 Directorates within the Ministry of Interior - Migration, International Projects and European Union and international cooperation, the National Preventive Mechanism and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Directorate within the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, UNHCR, Foundation for access to rights – FAR, Center for legal aid “Voice in Bulgaria”, who participated actively in the discussion.

 

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events-1930Tue, 04 Dec 2018 16:51:00 +0000Countering Malign Russian Influence and Propaganda in Moldovahttps://csd.bg/events/event/countering-malign-russian-influence-and-propaganda-in-moldova/In recent years Russia has reinforced the use of media propaganda and disinformation as one of its major instruments for exercising malign influence over national internal and foreign policies in the Central and Eastern European countries, in favor of the Kremlin’s economic and political interests. Particularly Moldova, due to the wide presence of official Russian media in the country, as well as the knowledge and use of Russian language by the majority of population, has become heavily vulnerable to Russian propaganda and disinformation. The latter are the preferred tools, used by the Kremlin, to undermine the credibility and moral authority of the European Union and NATO and to delay and impede the Euro-Atlantic developments and aspirations of the country. Pro-Russian propaganda and disinformation have flourished in Moldova also because the media regulatory framework is not sufficiently clear and effective and does not ensure the required transparency of media activities. In this situation, civil society organisations are leading the efforts for building resilience capacity in the country through independent analysis, trainings, civil activism and policy advocacy.

These were among the major issues, discussed during the workshop on “Countering Malign Russian Influence and Propaganda in Moldova” which was held on December 4, 2018 in Chisinau, Moldova. The workshop was co-organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the European Institute for Politics and Reforms and brought together media experts, journalists and civil society representatives.

During the workshop, several good practices for countering Russian media propaganda and disinformation were presented and discussed, e.g. the development and introduction of a curriculum and respective class on media literacy in the schools in Moldova in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the establishment of online platforms for independent monitoring and fact-checking, as well as building capacity in most vulnerable groups, e.g. youth and people, living in rural and underdeveloped regions.

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events-1925Tue, 27 Nov 2018 17:31:00 +0000Decentralisation and democratisaion of Bulgaria’s energy sectorhttps://csd.bg/events/event/decentralisation-and-democratisaion-of-bulgarias-energy-sector/Lack of consistency in the field of energy policies, insufficient administrative capacity as well as heavy administrative and tax burdens are among the main obstacles preventing Bulgaria to unlock its huge potential for the decentralization of electricity generation. These were some of the points outlined by the speakers in the “Decentralisation and democratisaion of Bulgaria’s energy sector: reaching EU’s main energy and climate goals” round table. The discussion took place in the National Assembly on 27 November 2018, and was jointly organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Parliamentary Committee on Energy.

Among the main participants were Delyan Dobrev, Chairman of the Energy Committee at the National Assembly, Zhecho Stankov, Deputy Minister of Energy, MPs as well as energy transition experts from the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment and Water, Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works, Energy and Water Regulation Committee, as well as the Executive Agency on Forestry at the Agriculture Ministry. Representatives of the district system operators (DSOs) and the non-governmental sector also took part in the round table.

The debate focused on the development of the National Energy and Climate Plan that the Bulgarian government is preparing as a future framework for energy transition until 2030. The experts agreed on several recommendations that could ease the energy transition and decrease energy poverty:

  • A better integration of the energy efficiency measures and the policy promoting the use of renewable energy sources;
  • Setting up more ambitious goals for increasing the number of passive buildings and for more eco-friendly and efficient use of the biomass resources in the country;
  • Supporting and promoting the research and development agenda in the field of low-carbon technologies, which have high added value and can literally transform those regions in Bulgaria which are highly dependent on coal power plants and the mining industry.


The representatives of the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of the Environment and Water underlined that for the realisation of the key climate and energy priorities, the government will rely on resources from the EU structural funds and the Modernisation Fund allocated for the 2021-2027 period, which support projects for technological upgrades and low-carbon energy innovations. The National Climate and Energy Plan will also include a series of measures that will decrease the administrative burden for the launch of new renewable-based power plants and create adequate market stimuli for the industry.

In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the Energy Committee, Mr. Delyan Dobrev asked the participants to send further recommendations for legislative amendments aiming to decrease the administrative burden before the small RES power plants, in addition to those already outlined in the report by the Center for the Study of Democracy.

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events-1924Mon, 26 Nov 2018 16:55:00 +0000Energy Security Risks and Energy Security Agenda in Southeast Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/energy-security-risks-and-energy-security-agenda-in-southeast-europe/Overcoming the energy security risks of Bulgaria and Southeastern Europe including widespread energy poverty, low energy efficiency and dependence on one supplier of oil and gas remains a distant perspective. The diversification of the natural gas supply has stalled and the liberalization of cross-border gas trading is yet to be unlocked. State capture of energy policies by private domestic and foreign state interests has been all too visible and we continue to pay its dues. Russia, for example, has skillfully exploited these governance gaps and lack of capacity to among others sabotage the country’s natural gas diversification including the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria and the domestic exploration and production of energy resources.

These have been some of the main issues raised during the policy round table Energy Security in Southeast Europe: the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, co-organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Kondrad Adenauer Foundation on 26 November 2018. Among the speakers were the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Energy, Mr. Delyan Dobrev, the Energy Minister, Ms. Temenuzhka Petkova, the Chairman of the Energy Regulator, Dr. Ivan Ivanov, the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria Mr. Eric Rubin, , and the Ambassador of Greece to Bulgaria Mr. Grigorios Vassiloconstandakis.

The participants in the discussion united behind several measures for tackling the country’s energy security risks successfully: Bulgaria needs a long-term, consistent strategy for liberalizing the electricity and gas markets, and prioritize critical infrastructure projects such as gas and electricity interconnection lines, gas storage facilities and LNG regasification terminals in cooperation with neighboring countries. Good governance and stable market institutions within the country and in line with agreed EU policies is the only way to be best prepared for the geopolitics of energy, shaped by the big suppliers and consumers, among which Bulgaria is not. This requires a smart approach for freeing enough pipeline capacity on the transmission system for alternative gas volumes from Greece, Turkey and Romania to flow towards bigger markets in Central Europe; the development of a liquid gas trading exchange where all gas suppliers will offer products at equal conditions; and the implementation of a gas regulatory framework that would prevent discriminatory practices.

CSD Policy Brief No. 81: Energy Security in Southeast Europe: the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector

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events-1922Tue, 20 Nov 2018 13:40:00 +0000Strengthening Cooperation in Energy Sector between Korea and Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/strengthening-cooperation-in-energy-sector-between-korea-and-bulgaria/On 20 November 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy together with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Bulgaria organised the Korea-Bulgaria Energy Forum “Strengthening Cooperation in Energy Sector between Korea and Bulgaria”. The forum discussed several key topics such as the current state and the future developments of the energy sector in Bulgaria, the challenges related to energy transitions in Korea and Bulgaria as well as the opportunities for cooperation between Bulgaria and Korea in the energy field.

Among the keynote speakers were Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, H.E. Jeong Jinkyu, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bulgaria, Ms Temenuzhka Petkova, Minister of Energy and Mr Lyu Hyang-Reol, CEO of Korea South-East Power Co.

The Bulgarian and Korean participants agreed that there is a need of further bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and a potential for expansion. This collaboration could be especially fruitful in the area of renewable energy sources (RES) as both countries are striving to increase their energy independency. The event brought together representatives of the Bulgarian and Korean governments, executive agencies, business, NGOs, energy experts, academics, journalists and interested citizens.

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events-1938Employment among Vulnerable Youth in the Regions of Sliven and Yambolhttps://csd.bg/events/event/employment-among-vulnerable-youth-in-the-regions-of-sliven-and-yambol/On November 20, 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy participated in a one-day workshop on the topic of youth employment policy and its effects on youth from vulnerable groups (mainly Roma youth) in the regions of Sliven and Yambol. The workshop aimed to gather local stakeholders in youth employment and inspire dialogue among them on the topic of youth employment and the impacts of the EU Youth Guarantee scheme in the regions of Sliven and Yambol. Present at the workshop were representatives of local Public Employment Service offices, municipal and regional government representatives, representatives of non-governmental organizations and local business, and youth from vulnerable groups. During the workshop, the Center for the Study of Democracy presented results from a study that it and a partner organization, the World Without Borders Association, conducted on the outreach of the EU Youth Guarantee to Roma youth in the regions of Sliven and Yambol. The workshop participants raised the following points concerning the dynamics of the Youth Guarantee outreach in the two regions:

  • The limited interest of local businesses in participating in the scheme and hiring youth through the Youth Guarantee;
  • The limited interest among targeted youth in Youth Guarantee participation due to the low monetary motivation of positions offered through the scheme;
  • The divergence between employers and youth on their expectations concerning working environment, conditions and payment;
  • The trend among Roma youth, and youth more generally, to look for work abroad and not consider possibilities offered through interventions such as the Youth Guarantee in Bulgaria;
  • The need for closer collaboration between business and education institutions in supporting youth from vulnerable groups so that these youth can offer business high-quality labor.


The workshop was one of a series of similar events organized by World Without Borders with the support of CSD as part of the project “Mind the Gap: Facilitating Access to and Take Up of Youth Guarantee Measures by Roma Youth in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.” In September and October 2018, CSD took part in two similar workshops organized in the City of Stara Zagora and the City of Vidin, respectively.

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events-1917Thu, 08 Nov 2018 11:54:00 +0000The Links Between Crime and Terrorism in Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-links-between-crime-and-terrorism-in-europe/Radicalisaiton and terrorism are among the most pressing security threats in the European Union. The possible interaction or convergence between conventional and organised criminals on the one hand and extremists on the other can amplify the risks presented by both security issues. On 8 November 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a conference on The Links between Crime and Terrorism in Europe, during which Prof. Dr. Peter NeumannRajan Basra and Zora Hаuser from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College, London presented the results from the Crime-Terror Nexus Project.

In Western European countries the crime-terror nexus is particularly pronounced as exemplified by Islamist extremists engaging in crimes such as drug trafficking both prior to and after subscribing to radical ideologies. With regard to both radicalisation to extremism and crime, social networks are particularly important as they can provide access to an extremist ideology or facilitate the acquisition of skills and contacts which can be useful both for terrorist and criminal purposes. Prisons are also environments which are particularly conductive to processes of radicalisation and can thus foster the adoption of extremist narratives among criminals. Therefore penitentiary institutions need to be prioritised in efforts to counter radicalisaiton. Contrary to Western European countries, a crime-terror nexus is hardly observed in Bulgaria and Romania. Nevertheless, both countries have established organised criminal groups which can potentially provide important services to terrorist organisations, such as facilitation of illegal migration. Therefore, it is important to be cognizant of the security risks presented by the intersections between different types of crime and extremism and develop a comprehensive approach to prevent and counter such processes when they occur.

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events-1940The Rights of Recognized Same-Sex Partners Moving Across the EUhttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-rights-of-recognized-same-sex-partners-moving-across-the-eu/In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize marriage equality for same-sex couples. This creates a precedent, followed by dozens of other countries, both inside and outside of Europe. Today, twenty-two of the EU Member States already offer some form of legalization of same-sex families - registered partnership or marriage. At the same time, a study on the values in Bulgarian in 2017 shows that over 75% of the respondents are opposed to allowing same-sex couples to marry.

On November 8, 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy participated in an international conference on the topic of marriage equality, part of a national initiative to study the rights of same-sex couples residing in Bulgaria with officially recognized marriage or partnership in another EU Member State. In the framework of the conference, experts from six European countries (the Netherlands, Ireland, Malta, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria) exchanged experiences on marriage equality, addressed the implementation of the Free Movement Directive for same-sex couples in the EU, discussed the institutional obstacles to the introduction of marriage equality in Bulgaria and other European countries, as well as the role of the non-governmental sector, politicians, activists and institutions.

Within the framework of the event, Liliya Dragoeva, an analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy's Sociological Program, presented the results of the first study for Bulgaria among same-sex couples with a recognized marriage or partnership in another EU Member State. The data show that none of the rights which the couples enjoy as spouses and partners in other countries are recognized in Bulgaria. This includes the right of residence, the exercise of custody, property rights and the right to inheritance. Interviewed families associate Bulgaria with a strong sense of injustice due to systemic discrimination by institutions and negative public attitudes and stigma of same-sex relationships.

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events-1915Tue, 30 Oct 2018 11:52:00 +0000Employment Dynamics among Youth in Northwestern Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/employment-dynamics-among-youth-in-northwestern-bulgaria/On October 30, 2018, CSD took part in a one-day workshop held in Vidin, Bulgaria, the topic of which was “Youth Employment in Northwestern Bulgaria: Reality and Perspectives.” Present at the workshop were local stakeholders including representatives of the Vidin Public Employment Service office, representatives of local schools, youth and health mediators, a member of the local branch of the National Committee for Protection against Discrimination, representatives of the local evangelical community. CSD presented results from a study it conducted in northwestern Bulgaria on the outreach of the EU Youth Guarantee schemes to Roma youth in the region.

Participant discussion breeched the topics such as the lack of qualified labor in the region; the tendency of Roma youth to leave Bulgaria and pursue work abroad; the reasons why businesses may feel demotivated to participate in EU Youth Guarantee schemes; the challenges of motivating Roma youth and local youth in general to pursue education; the need for more commitment in participation in youth employment processes by local business; the need for a closer connection between business and educational institutions.

The workshop was organized by World Without Borders with the support of CSD as part of the initiative “Mind the Gap: Facilitating Access to and Take Up of Youth Guarantee Measures by Roma Youth in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.”

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events-1912Tue, 16 Oct 2018 16:35:00 +0000Protection of the Rights of Victims of Traffickinghttps://csd.bg/events/event/protection-of-the-rights-of-victims-of-trafficking/On 16 October 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a roundtable, dedicated to European standards and new Bulgarian experiences in the effective referral, support and protection of the rights of victims of trafficking. The event gathered representatives of the executive and the judiciary, such as the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, the National Legal Aid Bureau, the State Agency for Refugees, the Migration Directorate with the Ministry of the Interior, the State Agency for Child Protection, the Employment Agency, the Sofia Regional Court; UNICEF as well as NGOs from the Alliance for Protection against Gender-Based Violence.

In his opening remarks, Mr Dimitar Markov, Project Director at the Law Program of the Center, cited findings from a recent CSD publication according to which the human trafficking phenomenon is growing, while new technologies provide traffickers with easier control over victims.

In his presentation, Mr Stefan Ralchev, Chief Expert at the Administration of the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, presented the co-ordination mechanisms, which the Commission applies in its work, and especially the National Referral Mechanism, oriented towards the rights of victims. Among the achievements of the Commission in the last two years, Mr Ralchev emphasized on the opening of two new services for victims – a shelter and a crisis center for children. As a concrete example for successful co-operation between Bulgarian and EU authorities, the Commission representative described a case from Toulouse, France where an organised criminal group exploited Bulgarians for begging. As a result of the swift actions by authorities, 23 Bulgarians returned to the country. Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Senior Analyst at the Law Program of the Center, gave details on the international initiative which the roundtable was closing, emphasizing on the support of the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, a number of NGOs and magistrates. As part of the initiative, experts had visited several countries with substantial achievements in the prevention and countering of trafficking, such as Sweden, Spain and Belgium. A handbook for professionals working with victims was drafted and presented at a training, main topics including EU and national legal frameworks, secondary victimisation, support by psychologists and social workers, as well as interinstitutional co-operation in cases of trafficking. Several issues were put out for discussion – how victim support should reach all the country’s regions, how to integrate all support services into a one-stop-shop, how to take care of the families of trafficking victims, how to implement counter-trafficking and migration management together.

Ms Petya Dobreva, Director of Legal Aid Directorate of the National Legal Aid Bureau, outlined the main directions in the work of the institution – facilitating the access of persons and improving the effectiveness and quality of legal aid. Besides the creation of the national legal aid telephone line and regional consulting centres, the vital importance of the co-ordination between the Bureau and social support directorates and the support and information by NGOs was emphasized. Ms Miriana Ilcheva from the Law Program of the Center presented a strategic paper for referral to legal aid of victims of trafficking, developed within the framework of the initiative. She outlined the key role of the independence and loyalty of lawyers in defending victims’ interests. The need for constant improvement of lawyers’ expertise and the accompanying disciplinary liability in cases of violations were also outlined.

In the panel dedicated to the experiences of the NGO sector, Ms Daniela Gorbounova, attorney-at-law, Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, presented cases from her practice, commenting on the specifics of the legal protection of victims of violence and the need for profound knowledge on the psychological impact of the crime. Ms Gorbounova pointed to the role and contribution of NGOs in the sphere and noted that trials usually take a long time during which the support of relatives and experts is vital for the victim.

Ms Tania Tisheva from the Alliance for Protection against Gender-Based Violence presented the activities of the Alliance and member organisations throughout the country. The Alliance’s main aim is to support and co-operate with national and local authorities in cases of violence and lobby for legislative amendments in relevant areas. Ms Tisheva gave examples of successful projects in the fields of protection against violence and human trafficking.

In the ensuing discussion Ms Diana Videva from the Demetra Association recommended the creation of one stop shops – integrated centres where victims of trafficking may benefit from an array of services. There is also necessity for effective co-operation among lawyers, social workers and psychologists which would be a pre-requisite for successful victim support. Ms Antonia Seizova from UNICEF posed questions on the Swedish experience with children victims of migrant origin as well as on the avenues for seeking sustainability of the initiative’s activities. Mr Dimitar Markov commented that there was lack of capacity among institutions dealing with migration which prevented them from identifying incoming trafficking victims. Other important factors cited were the language barrier and the non-differentiated approach of institutions. Answering to those findings, Mr Nikolai Cholakov and Ms Katina Andreeva from the State Agency for Refugees pointed out the substantial progress in overcoming language barriers and the improvement of the Agency’s institutional capacity to counter trafficking. Ms Gorbounova joined the discussion by giving examples from the European Court of Human Rights case-law on ineffective investigations of sexual violence cases in Bulgaria.

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events-1952Bulgarian Organized Crime Threat Assessmenthttps://csd.bg/events/event/bulgarian-organized-crime-threat-assessment/On 9 October 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy organised a round table to discuss the findings of the Bulgarian Organized Crime Threat Assessment (BOCTA) report prepared with the financial support of the European Union Internal Security Fund. The event brought together representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Customs Agency, the National Revenue Agency, the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, the Supreme Court of Cassation, and the State e-Government Agency.

In his opening remarks, Lt. Gen. Chavdar Chervenkov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, reviewed the analysis’ highlights, pointing out that the assessment is based on a Europol-developed methodology and the ordering of illegal markets in the report corresponds to the amount of financial losses for the treasury.

Dr. Mois Faion, Senior Fellow at the CSD Security Program, presented the methodology and the scope of the Bulgarian organised crime threat assessment. He outlined the major trends, structure and size of the country’s main criminal markets and the damages they cause, and offered some recommendations on how to minimize the impact of organised crime. Dr. Faion also stressed that the analysis assesses the threats, rather than the efforts to counter organised crime.

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program, explored the dynamics in the main criminal markets in Bulgaria in the past year. The assessment data indicates that the percentage of companies subjected to extortion racketeering and usury over the year is on the decrease. At the same time, there is growth in the domestic sex market, with the percentage of men over 15 years of age who paid at least once for a sex service during the last year having risen to 5.9 % compared to 1.6 % in 2010. Another criminal market displaying a significant surge since the last organised crime assessment is the illegal trade in fuels where estimates of damages for the state budget amount to about BGN 650 million per year. With regard to the trafficking and sale of narcotics, the analysis shows an impressive increase in cannabis trade, which is currently positioned as the main pillar of drug trade. The Bulgarian cannabis market turnover has expanded from BGN 41.4 – 92.6 million in 2008 to BGN 63.4 – 142 million.

Participants in the round table emphasized the benefits of BOCTA, as well as the possible extension of its scope to include some less studied, yet problematic criminal markets.

Senior Commissioner Rumen Ganev, Director of the Internal Security Directorate at the Ministry of Interior, joined the debate to address the problems related to illegal logging. He emphasized that illegal logging leads to serious social problems in certain regions of the country and even though it does not seem to be a significant market in terms of financial damages, it is proportionate to human smuggling. Commissioner Ganev also noted that investigation of illegal trade in fuels remains a major challenge.

Petar Tsankov, Head of Department at the National Revenue Agency, supported the opinion that the illegal logging market is being underestimated. With reference to the available data concerning the illegal fuel market, Mr. Tsankov underlined that further research is necessary and it is important to maintain the monitoring process.

Kamelia Dimitrova, Secretary General of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, observed that the data presented in the BOCTA report corresponds to the data published by Europol. She informed the round table participants that Bulgaria will host a meeting dedicated to the role of the Internet and social networks as an intermediary tool in human trafficking, and the measures which need to be taken to minimize this illegal market.

Zlatka Padinkova, Chief Inspector at the National Police, agreed with the findings of the report which define the telephone fraud market as a relatively small, yet significant one. She commented on the fact that a major part of phone scams are committed through calls made from Romania or with Romanian SIM cards, where there is no legal obligation for SIM card buyers to register. In addition, phone fraudsters often change their whereabouts, which impedes investigation.

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events-1911Fri, 14 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0000Standing Up To State Capture: Innovative Methods to Investigate Fraud and Corruptionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/standing-up-to-state-capture-innovative-methods-to-investigate-fraud-and-corruption/Unlike in the majority of EU member states, in Bulgaria and Romania the agricultural sector still has a major impact on the economy. The value added of the sector as a share of GDP in the two countries is more than twice as high as the average in EU28. Romania and Bulgaria remain the two countries in EU with the highest share of agriculture in their national GDP accounts. As such, fraudulent irregularities and corruption-related activities in the EU financing of Bulgarian and Romania’s agricultural sector present a serious threat to the financial interests of the EU. At the same time, the high concentration of land ownership, particularly in Bulgaria, together with persistent levels of irregularities and corruption in the procurement process, puts the national interest in agriculture at risk of being captured by private interests. This may lead to detrimental effects for economic life, opposite to those intended by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding rationale.

On 13 and 14 of September 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy organised a high-profile international conference with the support of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the Open Society Initiative for Europe. The event brought together academics, practitioners and innovators to discuss methods for assessing and measuring the state capture phenomenon and showcase the current and up-and-coming tools and techniques in detecting, preventing and investigating fraud and corruption in the EU funding for agriculture. The conference also tackled the potential impacts of organised crime and the state capture phenomenon on the rural and agriculture sectors in the EU and explored key aspects of the risks for the EU’s financial interests posed by white collar crime in the agricultural sector.

In his opening remarks CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov stressed that the state capture phenomenon is a key political issue which needs to be addressed via a set of specialised tools such as a State Capture Index. He also pointed out that the fraud in the agricultural sector both in Bulgaria and Romania remains a serious problem that could be tackled through institutional cooperation and technological innovations. Amira Szönyi, Head of Unit B4 Agricultural and Structural Funds II at OLAF, drew attention to EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its diverse goals. She underlined that frauds with agricultural funds pose a tangible risk to CAP’s successful implementation and noted the importance of bringing together experts with different backgrounds who could exchange knowledge, opinions and expertise to better address EU funds fraud issues.

Mariana Prats from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) offered an overview of the policy capture practices and noted that policies do not always reflect the most pressing concerns of citizens. The resultant institutional asymmetry is an important factor in facilitating the decrease in public trust in government. Ms. Prats underlined the need for legislation regulating party financing and reducing the policy gap in lobbying regulations. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at CSD’s Security Program, focused on the modus operandi of fraudsters exploiting EU agricultural funds in Bulgaria. A main pattern is to circumvent the Euro 300,000 limit on subsidy for farmers. Large land owners and operators in Bulgaria engage in complex schemes to parcel their lands into smaller plots in order to drain the EU direct payment mechanisms. This practice contributes to hyper-concentration of agricultural land, weaker competition and a decline in productivity. The President of the Romanian NGO Expert Forum Sorin Ionita, pointed out that most countries in Southeast Europe put more trust in EU, rather than in national institutions, but still vote for clientelist policies in times of crisis. Mr. Ionita stressed the lack of powerful civil service and independent judiciary leading to the failure of democratic policy mechanisms.

Dr. Alexander Gerganov from CSD’s Economic Program introduced a quantitative assessment of state capture in Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic. He underlined that the problem is rooted in the combination of poor governance, the monopolisation of key business sectors, and enablers such as media capture. Valentina Dimulescu from the Romanian Academic Society presented a recent study conducted in Romania, demonstrating that despite its evident economic growth, the country is still affected by pervasive corruption and overall poor governance. She gave examples from an analysis of public procurement in the infrastructure and construction sectors in order to highlight how anti-corruption efforts have not yet yielded the expected results. Nicola Capello from the Research Centre on Security and Crime in Vicenza presented the results of a study on state capture in Italy, which assesses the risk of external pressure on Italian institutions, as well as a case study of the MOSE project in Venice – a local example of state capture and its financial implications. Dr. Vit Simral, Lead Researcher at the University of Hradec Králové analysed the capture of key economic sectors in the Czech Republic such as agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry and energy. He emphasised the lack of regulations on the “revolving door” phenomenon as well as on conflict of interests.

In her presentation, Amira Szönyi introduced OLAF’s mission and several case studies detailing the most common corrupt and fraudulent practices involving EU funds. She stressed the importance of a more effective verification of market prices, transparent ownership structure, as well as improved legal definitions in the fight against fraud and corruption in the EU funding for agriculture. Dr. Philip Gounev, Deputy Minister of Interior of Bulgaria (2013–2017), presented a mapping of corruption processes upon which a comprehensive anti-corruption policy design could be based and highlighted the main components hampering anti-corruption measures, most notably the lack of public pressure. The Romanian investigative journalist Atilla Biro (Rise Project) showcased various tools and databases that may be used by both researchers and law enforcement officer and shared some of the challenges in corruption investigation, notably off-shore companies. He highlighted the complications in collecting corruption evidence because of the need to prove both corrupt acts and the corresponding laundered money.

The issues of detecting and investigating fraud and corruption in the EU funding for agriculture were discussed by Col. Amedeo De Franceschi, Head of the Carabinieri Command Office for Agri-Food Protection in Rome, who described the recent technical improvements in the fight against agri-food crime, notably document and scientific traceability, the development of database, GIS and remote-sensing technologies. Andrei Atila Luca Chendi, Director at the Control Directorate at DLAF, Romania’s Fight Against Fraud Department, stressed the need for prevention, while insisting that legislation remains the most effective tool for combating fraud with EU funds. He highlighted insufficient investigative authority as a main obstacle to successfully bring EU funds fraudsters to justice. Andon Tashukov from the Anti-Fraud Coordination Service (AFCOS) of the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior underlined the main constraints to collecting evidence in both spot checks and digital forensic operations, as well as the need for cooperation between national and EU institutions in order to carry out effective investigations. Brendan Quirke, Senior Lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University drew attention to the structural problems undermining the fight against corruption and fraud, which are rooted in the fragmentation of both skills and knowledge, as well as in the relations between national administrations and EU institutions. He insisted that the relations between OLAF and AFCOS should be more horizontal.

Focusing on public procurement, Ágnes Czibik, Managing Director of the Budapest-based Government Transparency Institute, demonstrated the use of big data analysis in developing corruption indicators. She maintained that such indicators may be used for risk assessment or for setting up automatic compliance checks in public procurement procedures. The Secretary General of the Romanian National Integrity Agency Silviu Ioan Popa introduced PREVENT, an IT tool designed by the agency to identify and prevent conflict of interests by detecting connections and relationships in public procurement through analysing a number of variables, including previously held positions in the administration. Dimitar Dimitrov, Director for Anti-Fraud at the Bulgarian State Fund Agriculture presented the structure and activities of the Anti-Fraud Directorate, the legislative changes that would increase anti-fraud effectiveness, and the main IT tools and databases used to investigate fraud and corruption in EU funding for agriculture. Radu Nicolae from the Romanian Syene Centre for Education gave an overview of the deficient structural processes in the agricultural sector in Romania, which act as enablers for tax evasion and corruption. He maintained that an agricultural cadastre needs to be implemented in Romania in order to facilitate combatting fraud, corruption and abuse in the sector.

Going on to discuss the role of statistics, high-tech and remote sensing technologies, Francesca Tortifrom the Text and Data Mining Unit of the Joint Research Center (JRC) presented statistical tools such as THESEUS and WebARIADNE aiming at the identification of anomalies in the trade of goods between state members and third countries, as well the “fair price” concept developed by the European Commission for precise estimates of the price of imported products. She drew attention to some trade volume monitoring methods to detect potential misdeclaration of origin. Kamen Iliev, Director of the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) and General Manager of TAKT-IKI Ltd. explained the more recent innovations in satellite and EO technology such as thermal mapping and Hyperspectral along with their possible applications in the field of the anti-corruption and anti-fraud prevention and investigation. Dan Nica, irregularities officer at the Control and Anti-Fraud Directorate of Romania’s Agency for Rural Investment Financing (AFIR), dwelt on the IT tools used by AFIR to detect fraud and anomalies, namely the digitalisation of application and payment claims, applicant’s automatic threshold verification, and project mapping. Mr. Nica also stated that online access to government databases and registries is a great facilitation to the agency’s daily activities. Sergio Gomez de Rozas, Head of the Audit Area II at the Spanish Agrarian Guarantee Fund O.A. (FEGA) described the Spanish approach in identifying and preventing fraud in the agricultural sector based on the specific administrative and political structure of the country He focused on the use of GIS and remote sensing technologies in identifying parcels and lands under direct payments.

Dr. Christopher Brewster, Senior Scientist at the Data Science Department of the Dutch research institute TNO, gave a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities of blockchain in the agricultural sector. He highlighted several aspects wherein blockchain may have a potential fraud and corruption diminishing role, such as in document management. Tomáš Pošepný, data analyst at the Czech company Datlab, presented the results of a longitudinal study on the presence of companies established in tax havens, which enjoy much less stringent competition and operate with higher profit margin in public procurement bids in the EU. He stressed the evident risk for tax evasion, but also for potential conflict of interests. Paul C. Johannes, member of the Project Group on Constitutionally Compatible Technology Design at the University of Kassel, explained the main overlapping elements of fraud prevention and fraud detection before introducing tools such as INSPECT for financial fraud, and LiDaKrA. He presented the overall legal framework within which innovative technologies such as blockchain must operate in order to be compliant with current EU requirements. Bozhidar Bozhanov, founder and CEO of the Bulgarian company LogSentinel, offered an overview of the potential of blockchain technology in the fight against fraud, highlighting its strengths in guaranteeing data integrity. He argued that if blockchain cannot address the main problems of fraud, it could help in protecting the alteration documents and measurement-related data. He introduced the fraud detection tools Hyperledger and Logsentinel, also stressing the high prevention potential of such technology.

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events-1919Wed, 12 Sep 2018 17:09:00 +0000Youth Employment in the Stara Zagora Regionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/youth-employment-in-the-stara-zagora-region/A one-day workshop on youth employment schemes was held in the City of Stara Zagora on 12 September, 2018. The workshop gathered around 40 youth employment stakeholders from Stara Zagora and the region in discussing the state of youth employment in the region and exploring possibilities for building partnerships to enhance youth employment.

The workshop raised topics such as the impacts of EU’s Youth Guarantee measures on Roma youth and other vulnerable youth groups in the region of Stara Zagora; the lack of motivation among youth to work in Bulgaria, and instead to seek professional realization abroad; the need for stronger partnership between businesses and public institutions (such as the Public Employment Service and education institutions) in promoting more youth employment; the need to design new approaches for motivation of youth employment.

The workshop was organized by World Without Borders in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy in the framework of the initiative “Mind the Gap: Facilitating Access to and Take Up of Youth Guarantee Measures by Roma Youth in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.”

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events-1910Tue, 04 Sep 2018 14:54:00 +0000Diagnosing and Countering Russian Influence and Media Capture in the Black Sea Countrieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/diagnosing-and-countering-russian-influence-and-media-capture-in-the-black-sea-countries/Russian influence in the media sectors of the Black Sea countries has become more visible in recent years and has been established through the deployment of a diverse set of instruments. Some of these instruments include the establishment of financial dependencies especially on the basis of ownership; political support for pro-Kremlin domestic media; the utilization of organizations outside the media sector - such as commercial companies, NGOs, educational and cultural institutions for agenda-setting; the exploitation of the Black Sea countries’ governance deficits to prevent media transparency and freedom; the conferral of honors and awards on pro-Russian media and their staff; the use of hybrid warfare tools such as fake news and internet trolling.

In order to address the challenges stemming from Russia's media influence, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized an international policy roundtable on 4 September 2018 in Kyiv, Ukraine, which brought together policy-makers, media experts, journalists and representatives of civil society organizations. The participants discussed the main findings, conclusions and policy recommendations of a recently published regionally comparative study titled 'Russian Influence in the Media Sectors of the Black Sea Countries: Tools, Narratives and Policy Options for Building Resilience', further putting forward their own ideas and suggestions for dealing with Russian propaganda.

In the opening session of the event, Ms. Julia Kazdobina, Advisor to Ukraine's Minister of Information Policy, pointed out that Ukraine was the first country to experience the full force of Russian tools of influence on public opinion - Moscow captured Crimean media and Russia-linked Ukrainian media, thus attempting to make Crimeans distrustful of Ukraine and of the rest of the world. Hence, it is difficult to devise a policy response because Russia is developing its own broadcasting infrastructure, jamming Ukrainian signals. The most promising way forward is contained in the employment of a strictly analytical-investigative approach to the question of Russia's media influence. Dr. Roman Shutov, Strategic Advisor for the Partnership Programme, Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, Ukraine/Latvia, directed attention to the fact that truth is being weaponized by the Kremlin. Indeed, the most dangerous form of propaganda is hidden behind seemingly professional journalism that ostensibly follows standards of impartiality, whereby one can hide behind patriotic and anti-Russian narratives and still subtly disseminate pro-Kremlin messages. So the best way to combat such messages is to apply rigorous content analysis.

The first panel of the roundtable was dedicated to the presentation and discussion of the findings of the regionally comparative study. Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, introduced the economic and political tools (including state capture instruments, corporate presence, media propaganda and disinformation, geopolitical pressure) that the Kremlin has used to reinforce the governance deficits in the Black Sea countries. He focused on the links between media ownership and anti-Western propaganda as essential forms of Russian malign influence in the region, outlining the instruments and mechanisms for direct and indirect support to both Russia-owned and domestic pro-Russian media. Dr. Roman Shutov presented the characteristics of pro-Russian propaganda in Ukraine, stressing the employment of shocking, emotionally manipulative images and the coverage of glaringly untruthful information. Dr. Rumena Filipova, Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy, emphasized the commonalities of pro-Russian narration and style of dissemination shared by the selected media outlets in Bulgaria as a function of these outlets' general pro-Russian tilt. She also focused on the differentiations in propagandist discourse and transmission techniques, conditioned by the different degrees of the political-economic enmeshment of the outlets with pro-Kremlin groups and interests. Ms. Sopho Gelavaand Ms. Ana Chitaladze, Researchers at the Media Development Foundation, Georgia, provided an overview of the Russian liaisons of the selected media sources in Georgia, spelling out the effects of these liaisons on news coverage. An important caveat concerned the fact that in respect of the energy theme, the portrayal of Moscow is not unequivocally positive given Tbilisi's efforts at energy diversification. Mr. Gegham Vardanyan, Editor in Chief of the Media Initiatives Center, Armenia, stressed the overwhelmingly favorable coverage of pro-Russian narratives, use of Russian sources and positive attitudes to the Kremlin not least due to the specificities of the Armenian media landscape, including the popularity of the Russian language and accessibility to Russian TV. Mr. Simion Ciochina, Communication Manager at the Institute for European Policies and Reforms in Moldova, focused on the common trends of pro-Russian propaganda shaped by the heritage of Soviet-descended media links to Russia, the popularity of the Russian language and the establishment of political control of the press. 

The general discussion following the presentations was marked by two important queries. The first concerned the issue of the actual impact of the established Russian propaganda on public opinion and domestic political discourse. The second was related to the unexpectedness of the heavy coverage of the Syrian topic in the Bulgarian case, which was explained as evidence of the imposition of pro-Russian narratives on the Bulgarian public that may not necessarily be so interested in the Syrian conflict. The only two locally-relevant topics covered with regard to Syria include the issue of Bulgarian weapons supplies to the rebels and the possible dissemination of violence from Syria to Southeastern Europe and the Baltic states.

Subsequently, elaborations of concrete, analytically- and experience-based proposals for tackling anti-Western propaganda followed. Ms. Liubov Tsybulska, Deputy Director of the Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group, Ukraine Crisis Media Center, argued that the main element in Russian propaganda is related to narratives, which feed into culturally established beliefs and values (of Russia as a country with a proud imperial history, of the Russians as victims of external aggression), which cannot be easily defeated. That is, combating Russian propaganda cannot be just about revealing the truth, as the narratives play into the national psyche. Dr. Andreas Umland, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, directed attention to the problem of 'dis-balance'. The most effective form of disinformation has been the exaggerated presentation of truthful information about Ukraine, which is dis-balanced from more positive information about the country. Moreover, he argued that the Western discussion of Russian influence emphasizes the confrontation between democracy and authoritarianism, the continuation of the Cold War, the possibility of a World War 3. This is too dramatic and leads to policy mistakes as the question is more about the kleptocracy of the Russian political class. Dr. Umland also noted that Russian social networks are insufficiently used by Westerners. Dr. Volodymyr Yermolenko, Director of European projects, Internews Ukraine, pointed out that we already know the key features of Russian propaganda so the next step is to start being pro-active about combating it. Information is being weaponized and therefore the corresponding approach should be disarmament. Also, it is a false dilemma to decide whether fake news or narratives should be addressed first. Both should be tackled because our minds gather facts, which need to be united by narratives to become comprehensible. Useful ways of combating propaganda include due diligence of the financial ties of pro-Russian outlets, naming and shaming, applying sanctions. 

As regards the EU's role in tackling Russian propaganda, Latvia's experience was hailed as a positive example in that Riga was the first to call attention to the question of disinformation and the European Commission came up with corresponding initiatives. The EU's Eastern Partnership program was suggested to be used more actively as a platform through which the partnership countries can play the role of 'experts' on Russia within the EU, given their historical intertwining with and deep knowledge of Moscow. On the other hand, a warning was sounded that the EU's initiatives on countering disinformation are treated as issues of diplomatic concern rather than as internal problems for the Union. Also, the EU underestimates the security dimension of Russian propaganda, while Ukraine overestimates it so a proper balance should be found between a focus on security vs. freedom. Finally, it was argued that it is paramount to disseminate the findings of studies on Russian propaganda to Western countries, such as Italy, that are more prone to accept Kremlin narratives. Disinformation has become a global topic, which represents a perfect opportunity to transcend national boundaries in dealing with this matter.

Finally, a capacity-building exchange for journalists, bloggers and CSOs featured talks that provided a wider treatment of issues related to Russian influence. Dr. Rumena Filipova presented The Kremlin Playbook (a joint CSD-CSIS publication), which establishes a relationship between Russia's economic footprint and the deterioration of democratic standards in Central and East European countries, charts out the vulnerable sectors of CEE economies where Moscow is dominant, clarifies the amplifiers of the Kremlin's economic leverage and puts forward policy recommendations for tackling this leverage. Dr. Todor Galev introduced a media content analysis toolkit, whose aim is to trace, reveal and map Russia's financial and corporate ties to the domestic media outlets of other states as avenues for exercising and channeling media influence through propaganda. 

The discussion fleshed out participants' own observation of the link between Moscow's economic influence and the deterioration of democratic standards. For instance, it was pointed out that in Ukraine the Russian language is heavily promoted as a business strategy. It was also stressed that a counter-argument to the one put forward in the Kremlin Playbook refers to the presence of a weaker threat coming from Russia that may not be guided by a concerted Russian political strategy. It was responded that observations about the overrepresentation of the Russian threat depend on the (recent) historical context. Now it may seem that as concern about Russian policy has increased, analyses have also been focused on that direction, but back in time when the study was devised and especially in 2008, CSD was warning about the insufficient attention paid to the malign effects of Russian policy. This was not immediately heeded, with the 2009 letter to Obama on the part of CEE leaders being an important first step. Indeed, the key consideration was that once CEE states acceded to the EU and NATO, this did not completely mean that Western allies could be assured of the 'positivity' of economic and political trends in those countries. Just like cultural paradigms and visions of national identity can return and be enacted cyclically, so too Russia was gradually making a comeback in the region, which was no trivial matter.

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events-1909Mon, 03 Sep 2018 14:28:00 +0000A Euro-Atlantic Future for Macedonia?https://csd.bg/events/event/a-euro-atlantic-future-for-macedonia/A roundtable discussion on "A Euro-Atlantic Future for Macedonia?" was held on 3 September 2018 in Skopje. The roundtable focused on the role the EU and NATO on the European future of Macedonia, the impact of the progress of Macedonia on the Western Balkans, as well as the experience of neighbouring countries.

The event was organized by the European Policy Institute (EPI), the Institute for Democracy "Societas Civilis" and the Center for Economic Analyses, in cooperation with the Aspen Institute in Berlin. Speakers included Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and representative of the SELDI Network, Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Nikola Poposki, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Macedonia, and Ambassador Dr. Christian Helbach, the Special Representative for Southeastern Europe, Turkey and the EFTA countries of FR Germany.

Mr. Stefanov suggested that even if the referendum on the future name of Macedonia has a positive outcome, which is seen as the key hurdle to the country’s EU integration, it would only represent the beginning of the real reforms that Macedonia has to complete. He further remarked that after joining NATO and the EU, Bulgaria had a wider agenda and more obligations compared to the pre-accession period. Mr. Stefanov commented that Macedonia can become an important and strategic partner for the EU and NATO only if it fully commits to be part of the Western alliance and to meet its goals. He also noted that joining NATO and the EU should not be seen as an end to itself - the real challenge that the country is faced with is assuring better quality of life for its citizens, through focusing on tackling corruption and poverty.

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events-1906Thu, 28 Jun 2018 14:18:00 +0000Financing of Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/financing-of-human-trafficking-for-sexual-exploitation/Trafficking in human beings (THB) for the purpose of sexual exploitation has become one of the largest Bulgarian criminal markets since the beginning of the new millennium. Trafficking and prostitution not only generate huge incomes for Bulgarian organised crime but also have detrimental social and economic impact on local communities. Trafficking in human beings (THB) for the purpose of sexual exploitation has become one of the largest Bulgarian criminal markets since the beginning of the new millennium. Trafficking and prostitution not only generate huge incomes for Bulgarian organised crime but also have detrimental social and economic impact on local communities. 

On June 28, 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table discussion on Financing of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The event brought together representatives of the National Commission for Combatting Traffic in Human Beings, General Directorate National Police, General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime, Sofia Metropolitan Directorate of Interior, Commission for Countering Corruption and Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Assets, academia and experts working in this field.

Dr. Atanas Rusev, Director of the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, and Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova, Secretary of the National Commission for Combatting Traffic in Human Beings, delivered opening remarks. Ms. Dimitrova introduced the Commission’s structure and activities with regard to the support and protection provided to THB victims, as well as its role in the area of prevention and strengthening capacity building for countering human trafficking. Dr. Rusev highlighted the fact that over the last years the Center has been working on different aspects of the THB phenomenon and that the data presented at this round table comes as a result of a nearly two-year research and interviews conducted with representatives of the prosecution and police and with criminal markets actors. 

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, outlined the scale, structure and trends of the domestic and cross-border sex markets. According to estimates from 2012, there were some 10 000 – 20 000 sex workers from Bulgaria involved in the cross-border sex market, while the available data for the time period 2016-2017 indicate a decrease in this number by 30-50%, both as a result of changes in the criminal market structure and for demographic and economic reasons. With reference to the domestic market, the decreasing number of victims registered by the Prosecutor’s Office reflects just the fewer number of initiated pre-trial proceedings. Yet interviews with criminal business actors point to growth, evolution and adjustment to the new conditions, which make the old model of police control less effective.

Georgi Apostolov, Coordinator of the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre, Applied Research and Communications Fund, emphasized on the partnership with the General Directorate on Combating Organised Crime and with Interpol, taking into account that the majority of sexual content on the Internet featuring children involves child victims of criminal networks with servers located in Europe. Ms. Kamelia Dimitrovaadded that the reports of the European institutions also highlight the role of the Internet and that the European Commission has launched a partnership with Facebook aimed at raising the awareness of sexual exploitation by sending alerts to the potential victims.

Dr. Atanas Rusev presented data related to the financing of THB for sexual exploitation and noted that while institutions tend to focus solely on the proceeds from this crime, financing actually happens prior to and at the time of its commitment. Dr. Rusev defined the sources of initial capital necessary to enter the market of TBH for sexual exploitation, the costs associated with each stage of the process, various forms of settlement of payments and the methods for money laundering and re-investment of proceeds. The possible steps for countering the problem are the development of institutional capacity for effective financial investigations and their simultaneous handling along with the criminal ones, as well as improving the coordination among Bulgarian authorities.

Inspector Stoycho Kubatov from the General Directorate National Police stated that due to its complex nature, sometimes the crime of THB for sexual exploitation is being accompanied by a broad array of severe crimes against the person, including murder.

Inspector Milen Stoyanov from the General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime claimed that internal reorganizations and the reduced number of officers specialised in money laundering investigations pose serious impediments in the work of law-enforcement agencies. As regards cross-border crimes, the work process is being additionally hindered by the lack of information exchange with foreign counterpart police forces. 

Trifon Trifonov, Director of the International Activities, Coordination and Control Directorate at the Commission for Countering Corruption and Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Assets, elaborated on the role of the Commission with respect to TBH and money laundering. As one way of neutralising the result of those crimes, Mr. Trifonov referred to the non-conviction based forfeiture of illegal assets as a tool for countering organised crime. The total value of the illegal assets seized as of the establishment of the Commission up to date is 116 million BGN, which has a preventive effect as well. 

In conclusion, Dr. Rusev stressed that CSD’s work on this important topic will continue, focusing on the traffic of human beings for labor exploitation. 

CSD Policy Brief No. 78: Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Bulgaria: Criminal Finances and Capacity for Financial Investigations

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events-1904Tue, 19 Jun 2018 14:18:00 +0000Priorities for the National Energy and Climate Plan until 2030: decentralization and decarbonizationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/priorities-for-the-national-energy-and-climate-plan-until-2030-decentralization-and-decarbonization/On 19 June 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy welcomed representatives from all relevant institutions on a round table discussion: “Priorities for the National Energy and Climate Plan until 2030: decentralization and decarbonization”. Experts from CSD presented the key trends and obstacles towards Bulgaria’s energy decentralization, based on the three SEERMAP scenarios for the development of the electricity sector in Southeast Europe.On 19 June 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy welcomed representatives from all relevant institutions on a round table discussion: “Priorities for the National Energy and Climate Plan until 2030: decentralization and decarbonization”. Experts from CSD presented the key trends and obstacles towards Bulgaria’s energy decentralization, based on the three SEERMAP scenarios for the development of the electricity sector in Southeast Europe.

Participants from the Ministry of Energy; Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works; Ministry of Transport, Information technologies and Communications; Ministry of Environment and Water; Ministry of Agriculture and Food; the Sustainable Energy Development Agency and the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission took part in the discussion. They pointed out to some key issues to be resolved in relation to the development of the National Climate and Energy Plan, namely the need for an integrated approach, including all stakeholders and in particular the municipalities, overcoming the sharp decline of investments in RES, and reducing the number of energy poor and vulnerable groups.

 

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events-1900Thu, 14 Jun 2018 14:17:00 +0000Governance Practices in the Transition to a Low-carbon Futurehttps://csd.bg/events/event/governance-practices-in-the-transition-to-a-low-carbon-future/Europe is at a crossroads in its transition towards a sustainable energy system, which aims to address challenges related to climate change, high levels of pollution and growing energy security concerns. On 13-14 June, 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a Stakeholder workshop on governance practices in the transition to a low-carbon future with representatives from government agencies, research institutions and universities and business associations from across the EU and beyond. The workshop was organised within the framework of the ENABLE.EU project and aimed at discussing with relevant stakeholders governance practices and quality of governance as drivers or obstacles for public acceptability of low-carbon energy transition in the areas of heating and cooling and prosumers-practices. Europe is at a crossroads in its transition towards a sustainable energy system, which aims to address challenges related to climate change, high levels of pollution and growing energy security concerns. On 13-14 June, 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a Stakeholder workshop on governance practices in the transition to a low-carbon future with representatives from government agencies, research institutions and universities and business associations from across the EU and beyond. The workshop was organised within the framework of the ENABLE.EU project and aimed at discussing with relevant stakeholders governance practices and quality of governance as drivers or obstacles for public acceptability of low-carbon energy transition in the areas of heating and cooling and prosumers-practices. 

The participants discussed seven areas of governance bottlenecks and obstacles for public acceptability of low-carbon policies, as well as measures and possible solutions with regards to:

  • energy efficiency and prosumer practices in households;
  • energy poverty and high cost of investment for RES installations;
  • costly administrative procedures and/or improper taxation;
  • low institutional administrative and professional capacity, especially on regional/local level;
  • lack of strategic thinking and political commitment;
  • dominant position of incumbents in energy systems and policy;
  • low level of awareness and lack of transparency.

 

The event on the ENABLE.EU website

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events-1902Fri, 15 Jun 2018 14:17:00 +0000Envisioning the transition to low carbon energyhttps://csd.bg/events/event/envisioning-the-transition-to-low-carbon-energy/The two-day Transition Visioning Workshop was held on 14-15 June 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria with 60 participants from 10 countries. Interactive work in small groups allowed all participants to speak and share their knowledge. The two-day Transition Visioning Workshop was held on 14-15 June 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria with 60 participants from 10 countries. Interactive work in small groups allowed all participants to speak and share their knowledge. Taking into consideration the targets set by Europe 2020 and the Energy Union Initiative, the workshop addressed the following questions:

  • What are the desired end results or functions of energy practices?
  • What are the emerging actions and practices that are considered marginal but could shape our energy behaviours in the future?
  • What are the most promising actions related to technologies, policies, and behavioural changes that will have the highest impact on individual and collective energy practices in the future
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events-1898Wed, 16 May 2018 00:00:00 +0000Democracy That Delivers: Ten Years Later. Unlocking the Potential of the Western Balkanshttps://csd.bg/events/event/democracy-that-delivers-ten-years-later-unlocking-the-potential-of-the-western-balkans/The Western Balkans have made continued progress in addressing rule of law and governance issues since the turn of the century. The advancement has been made possible thanks primarily to triangulation of reforms, led by local civil society, reformist minded politicians, and external aid. The Corruption Monitoring System of the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity, has shown that corruption pressure on citizens in the Western Balkans has declined by 15 percentage points between 2000 and 2016 but at 26% remains unacceptably high. In some countries and policy domains systemic rule of law issues have resulted in state capture. Governance gaps have been exploited and amplified by resurgent authoritarian powers in the region, further slowing the transition to democracy and market economy. This calls for a renewed engagement with the Western Balkans by its European and US partners.The Western Balkans have made continued progress in addressing rule of law and governance issues since the turn of the century. The advancement has been made possible thanks primarily to triangulation of reforms, led by local civil society, reformist minded politicians, and external aid. The Corruption Monitoring System of the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity, has shown that corruption pressure on citizens in the Western Balkans has declined by 15 percentage points between 2000 and 2016 but at 26% remains unacceptably high. In some countries and policy domains systemic rule of law issues have resulted in state capture. Governance gaps have been exploited and amplified by resurgent authoritarian powers in the region, further slowing the transition to democracy and market economy. This calls for a renewed engagement with the Western Balkans by its European and US partners.

The international conference, organized in partnership by the Center for the Study of Democracy, the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the European Commission with the support of SELDI.net and the Bulgarian Swiss Cooperation Program on 16 May 2018, brought together the key transatlantic players for the Western Balkans with representatives of the civil society and the private sector on the eve of the informal meeting of the heads of state in Sofia on May 17-18, 2018. 

The discussion focused on the key policy actions, necessary for strengthening the stability and unlocking the potential of the Western Balkans and its Euro-Atlantic perspective: effective prosecution of high level corruption; utilization of innovative tools for countering administrative corruption (such as MACPI - Monitoring Anti-Corruption Policy Implementation); streamlining EU assistance; engaging directly with civil society; development of dedicated units to track illicit transactions; stronger oversight on development funds; assessments of the economic diversification and placing stronger focus on critical sectors such as energy, banking, telecommunications. The donor organizations’ representatives also highlighted the importance of setting up new support programmes at national and local level directed towards the citizens, including their involvement in the policy debate and the decision-making, improvement of skills for tackling youth unemployment, job creation, vocational trainings, development of entrepreneurship and increase of the media freedom. 

Security threats should be addressed together according to Christian Danielsson, Director General, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission. He noted that while the EU has already stated its re-commitment towards the Western Balkans, it is a political choice if the countries make use of this opportunity. There is a need of substantial reforms to address issues related to state capture, governance, rule of law. The expanding of the economic potential is already being observed, but investments will come much easier if governance issues are addressed. Ambassador Elisabeth I. Millard, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State underlined that USA would like to have an united Europe as a close partner, aligned with their shared values, however challenges remain considerable and the stakes are high. She reminded the audience that EU and NATO are standard based institutions, and it is vital for the Western Balkans to show political will, strengthen their institutions, security and rules. To achieve the common goal of energy security in particular, the region should build a competitive market through diversification and interconnectors, following the aims of the EU Third Energy Package.

During his lunch address Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Macedonia stated his commitment to build bridges of trust in the region, and expressed his hope that the name issue will be resolved soon. He noted that “the Balkans had a difficult past, but we are creators of our future”. 

The participants stressed that the European Commission has rightly prioritized the rule of law and security, including hybrid threats, in its new Enlargement Strategy from February 2018. They acknowledged the progress made so far, but also noted that the region needs to stay vigilant, and find the balance between the development and security agenda.They expressed their hope that the EU and NATO, as well as major donor countries in the Western Balkans, such as Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the US and Japan, would engage directly with civil society groups for tackling corruption and state capture more effectively.The speakers underlined that the European integration process provides an opportunity to reinforce also the national governments’ policy towards civil society. It should not be forgotten that civil society is part of the Berlin process, although currently it is involved only on technical terms in the decision-making. The provided recommendations are usually not taken into account. In that regard, now is the moment to develop more efficient policy tools to enhance the impact of civil society. These could include, for example, CSOs’ assistance to the EC and the national governments in monitoring and evaluation of public policies, especially in areas, such as public procurement, concessions and public-private partnerships. In that way the civil society will be able to provide an external unbiased perspective, expertise, as well as a mechanism for checks and balances against any inefficient or otherwise flawed distribution and utilisation of national or donor funds.

Videos

Policy Brief No. 77: Making Democracy Deliver in the Western Balkans: Strengthening Governance and Anticorruption

Russian Economic Footprint in the Western Balkans. Corruption and State Capture Risks

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events-1896Tue, 15 May 2018 14:15:00 +0000Promoting EU-Russia Non-governmental Cooperationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/promoting-eu-russia-non-governmental-cooperation/On 15 May 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) hosted a networking meeting with non-governmental stakeholders to discuss options for possible collaborative activities that facilitate EU-Russia dialogue on civil society and law-related issues. The meeting was held on the margins of the 8th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (CSF) which is taking place on 15-18 May 2018 in Sofia. The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum was established in 2011 and the Center for the Study of Democracy is among its founding members.On 15 May 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) hosted a networking meeting with non-governmental stakeholders to discuss options for possible collaborative activities that facilitate EU-Russia dialogue on civil society and law-related issues. The meeting was held on the margins of the 8th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (CSF) which is taking place on 15-18 May 2018 in Sofia. The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum was established in 2011 and the Center for the Study of Democracy is among its founding members.

The networking meeting was held under the auspices of the EU-Russia Legal Dialogue Programme of the CSF. Among the attendees were experts of the CSD and other Bulgarian non-governmental organisations, such as the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives and the Law and Internet Foundation, as well as CSF General Assembly guests and participants – representatives of think-tanks and policy institutes from Russia, Poland, and the Netherlands.

The meeting provided an opportunity for participants to present their respective activities and research interests and to exchange and brainstorm ideas and suggestions for future collaboration and joint initiatives in the areas of human rights and the rule of law, rights of vulnerable groups (such as prisoners, children, victims of crime, migrants, refugees), digital rights, fight against corruption and organised crime, civil society empowerment, judiciary monitoring, legal aid etc.

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events-1894Wed, 25 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0000Training Module for Cultural and Civic Orientation of Beneficiaries of International Protectionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/training-module-for-cultural-and-civic-orientation-of-beneficiaries-of-international-protection/A national study on the information and training needs of beneficiaries of international protection in Bulgaria conducted in 2017 identified the need of development of coherent and comprehensive program for information and orientation to facilitate the adaptation and inclusion of members of this group in the host society. Aiming to respond to this need Center for the Study for Democracy organized a national workshop “Training Module for Cultural and Civic Orientation of Beneficiaries of International Protection” that took place in Sofia on 25 April 2018.A national study on the information and training needs of beneficiaries of international protection in Bulgaria conducted in 2017 identified the need of development of coherent and comprehensive program for information and orientation to facilitate the adaptation and inclusion of members of this group in the host society. Aiming to respond to this need Center for the Study for Democracy organized a national workshop “Training Module for Cultural and Civic Orientation of Beneficiaries of International Protection” that took place in Sofia on 25 April 2018.

The workshop gathered professionals from public and NGO institutions mandated to provide services to refugees in Bulgaria as well as members of the refugee community. They discussed a draft Module for cultural and civic orientation of refugees, developed by the Center for the Study of Democracy and provided input for its fine tuning and finalization. By way of group discussions participants formulated guidance regarding the chosen topics, the relevance and comprehensiveness of the provided information and the proposed training techniques. The pack of recommendations formulated at the workshop will serve to finalise a Module for Cultural and Civic Orientation for beneficiaries of international protection in Bulgaria.

 

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events-1892Fri, 30 Mar 2018 14:14:00 +0000Countering Corruption in the Private Sectorhttps://csd.bg/events/event/countering-corruption-in-the-private-sector/The problem of private corruption is relatively new to corruption research, since traditionally corruption is seen as a public sector phenomenon associated with the use and abuse of public power, rather than with the operations of the private sector. The results from the first systematic study and report on private corruption in Bulgaria, implemented by the Center for the Study of Democracy, show that there are phenomena and practices in the private sector, which are to a large extent similar to the ones taking place in the overall corruption environment in the country. This was stated by Ruslan Stefanov, Director of CSD Economic Program at the opening of the round table on Countering Corruption in the Private Sector in Bulgaria on March 30, 2018.The problem of private corruption is relatively new to corruption research, since traditionally corruption is seen as a public sector phenomenon associated with the use and abuse of public power, rather than with the operations of the private sector. The results from the first systematic study and report on private corruption in Bulgaria, implemented by the Center for the Study of Democracy, show that there are phenomena and practices in the private sector, which are to a large extent similar to the ones taking place in the overall corruption environment in the country. This was stated by Ruslan Stefanov, Director of CSD Economic Program at the opening of the round table on Countering Corruption in the Private Sector in Bulgaria on March 30, 2018.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Research Director at CSD and author of the report, highlighted the fact that one in five companies in Bulgaria has experienced corruption pressure. The prevalence of corruption in the private and public sector seems to be approximately equal and no major differences between the two forms of corruption can be found. Around 20 % of the interviewed company executives report to having experienced corruption pressure, while in the public sector (in regards to the relations between the state and private business) this figure is 16 %.

The participants in the round table pointed out that the existence of private corruption in such dimensions considerably distorts the market environment, leads to implementation of practices, which destroy the normal market competition and eventually decreases the overall effectiveness and competitiveness of the private sector. 

An example of countering corruption in the private sector was provided by Delyan Dobrev, Chairman of the Energy Committee at the National Assembly, who referred to the electrical energy market, where in order to avoid purchase and resale of electrical energy at higher prices on behalf of private companies, as of 1 January, 2018, a formal requirement was introduced that all electrical energy transactions should be performed only through the energy stock exchange.

Nicola Yankov, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Expat Capital, called attention to the fact that corruption in the banking and non-banking financial sector does in no way concern just the private interest, as when it comes to allocation of cash flows by corrupt persons, resources are usually dissipated at the expense of society. This kind of behaviour is detrimental to the economic growth and curbs economic and social development. Even though there are strict legal frameworks in place, given the lack of effective regulatory supervision, the results are still far from satisfactory. A viable resolution would be Bulgaria’s joining the EU system of financial supervision.

In conclusion, the round table participants united around the view that the existence of corruption means lack of effectiveness and loss of prosperity for society as a whole. It was emphasized that even if Bulgaria takes one of the first places in Europe in terms of corruption awareness and counteracting, the efforts in this respect should continue.

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

Private Sector Corruption in Bulgaria

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events-1890Tue, 27 Mar 2018 14:13:00 +0000South East Europe Electricity Roadmap until 2050: Decarbonization and Decentralizationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/south-east-europe-electricity-roadmap-until-2050-decarbonization-and-decentralization/Bulgaria faces the challenge to adapt the dynamically evolving European strategies and policies for a low carbon economy to its national priorities. The process of reaching the targets set by the EC reflects the regional characteristics of SEE and the technological potential of the Bulgarian economy and energy sector, which causes some tension between the market players, consumers and stakeholders, thus hindering adequate policy formulation and implementation. Bulgaria faces the challenge to adapt the dynamically evolving European strategies and policies for a low carbon economy to its national priorities. The process of reaching the targets set by the EC reflects the regional characteristics of SEE and the technological potential of the Bulgarian economy and energy sector, which causes some tension between the market players, consumers and stakeholders, thus hindering adequate policy formulation and implementation. 

In response to these challenges and the need for communication between the various stakeholders, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a round table on South East Europe Electricity Roadmap until 2050: Decarbonization and Decentralization on 27 March 2018.

Experts from CSD presented their analysis based on an elaborate outlook for the development of the electricity sector in SEE until 2050. This was followed by a constructive discussion focusing on electricity market liberalization and the decarbonization and decentralization of electricity generation in order to identify possible solutions to respond to the existing regulatory and governance obstacles. 

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events-1888Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:11:00 +0000The Illicit Tobacco Market: Limits to Institutional Enforcementhttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-illicit-tobacco-market-limits-to-institutional-enforcement/The trade in illegal tobacco products contributes to significant loss in state budget revenue for many countries. The traditionally high levels of illicit tobacco product’s consumption in Bulgaria have brought about an estimated BGN 4.83 billion in VAT and excise tax losses for the last ten years. The concerted efforts of Bulgarian authorities have brought about a significant reduction in the market for illicit cigarettes since 2015.The trade in illegal tobacco products contributes to significant loss in state budget revenue for many countries. The traditionally high levels of illicit tobacco product’s consumption in Bulgaria have brought about an estimated BGN 4.83 billion in VAT and excise tax losses for the last ten years. The concerted efforts of Bulgarian authorities have brought about a significant reduction in the market for illicit cigarettes since 2015.

On 6 March 2018, the Center for the Study of Democracy organised a round table discussion on “The illicit tobacco market: limits to institutional enforcement”, where key stakeholders explored the possibilities for further curtailing of the illicit tobacco market. The round table was organized the as part of the project "Illegal Trade in Tobacco Products and the Balkan Route: Overcoming Institutional Gaps and Corruption", which is funded by PMI-IMPACT - a global initiative to combat illegal trade and related crimes. The event brought together representatives of the National Revenue Agency, the Directorate-General for Combating Organized Crime, the Directorate-General Border Police, the Directorate "Analyzes and Policies" at the Ministry of the Interior, the Customs Agency, as well as representatives of the tobacco industry.

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main trends since 2008, noting that the revenue generated by VAT and excise tax on tobacco products forms a significant share of the Bulgarian state budget. Whereas the average share of budget revenues stemming from tobacco taxation in Western European countries is about 1-2% of the overall tax revenue, the share of these revenues in the Bulgarian budget is between 9% and 10%. Institutional efforts for countering the illicit tobacco trade in the last three years have been largely successful as profits from illicit tobacco products and its consumption have declined, while the VAT and excise tax collections have increased.

The participants from all represented institutions agreed that the limiting of the trade in illicit tobacco products can be considered as a significant success, notwithstanding the limited resources that control organs have in comparison to the well organised and funded criminal actors. As a result of the institutional efforts, the trade in illicit product has been forced underground, as evidenced by the disappearance of sale of illicit tobacco from public spaces and retail locations, as well as the redirection of criminal entrepreneurs towards smaller quantities. In many localities authorities register very low levels of illicit tobacco products. The further limiting of the illicit market is a challenge especially with regard to tracking and control of the sale of chopped tobacco. At the same time, the results achieved can only be sustained with continuous enforcement, since any change of institutional priorities is followed by an expansion in the illicit trade.

A notable trend in the market is the diversification of the available products and retail options. Illicit shisha tobacco is an important new product which poses a significant threat to public health due to the poor conditions in which it is often produced and handled. Combatting the online sales of illicit tobacco and other products is another area which is increasingly coming to the attention to the authorities. On the other hand, there is no evidence that entry of new heat-not-burn products on the market is expected to lead to sales of counterfeited analogues in the medium term. This is due to the relatively higher costs for production and the generally low purchasing power of the Bulgarian consumers, which most likely will lead to a limited appeal for these products.


CSD Policy Brief No. 75: The Tobacco Market in Bulgaria: Trends and Risks

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events-1886Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:10:00 +0000Mapping the Links between Russian Influence and Media Capture in the Black Sea Countrieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/mapping-the-links-between-russian-influence-and-media-capture-in-the-black-sea-countries/The growth of Russian economic influence and propaganda in the media of Central and East European countries has become evident in recent years. To address these issues, CSD has engaged in analyzing the Russian economic footprint and ownership links in the media sector. The preliminary results show several similarities as well as differences between different CEE countries in the “tools” used by Russian-controlled media for disseminating content and political messages. The growth of Russian economic influence and propaganda in the media of Central and East European countries has become evident in recent years. To address these issues, CSD has engaged in analyzing the Russian economic footprint and ownership links in the media sector. The preliminary results show several similarities as well as differences between different CEE countries in the “tools” used by Russian-controlled media for disseminating content and political messages. 

In Bulgaria, for example, media ownership is not the primary means of influence, but rather the Russia-backed community of content creators and providers such as online news platforms, independent journalists, bloggers and internet trolls. The study further suggest that the presence of non-media companies from the energy, real estate and banking sectors in the shareholding and management of media companies also influences to a large extend the decisions-making and agenda-setting. 

In contrast, Georgian media is the main source of anti-western messages, followed by the pro-Russian political agenda of some political parties. The most common media propaganda methods used are the fake news, photo fabrications, conspiracy theories and demonization of NATO, the European Union and the European values. The Armenian media landscape was also described as one lacking freedom of speech and influenced by the strong economic involvement of Russia. Russian television plays prominent role due to the significant Russian diaspora in Armenia and use of Russian language. 

Ukraine presents a special case. Due to the ‘active’ conflict between Russia and Ukraine at the moment, the media is focused more on the anti-war rhetoric. Thus, the participants argued that rather than direct anti-western propaganda, Kremlin aims at shaping internal social conflicts. Media outlets evade the glorification of Russia, as well as discussing the issue of Crimea. The media topics are instead concentrated on depicting the Ukrainian government, its attempts for reforms and closing ties with the EU as harmful for the Ukrainian society. As a result, the trust in the government and the state is undermined. 

The speakers underlined that Russian propaganda and disinformation tactics are evident in Moldova since the Transnistrian conflict in 1992. With the recent outbreak of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine, Russia has transitioned to a more aggressive stage of media use as means of control. The biggest television channels, which are the primary source of information in Moldova, are owned by pro-Russian oligarchs. Within this media landscape, the West and its values are vilified, portraying US, NATO and EU as responsible for the military conflicts around the world. 

At the closing of the workshop, held on 22 February 2018, the CSD experts presented their goals on the development of a methodology, quantifying the Russian economic footprint in the media sector in the Black sea region. It will combine multiple data sources and data collection methods, such as financial, ownership and management hard data, case studies, expert assessment and content analysis of selected media outlets. Thus, by developing a clear and transparent guideline for other organisations to use, CSD hopes to raise the awareness on this issue. 

Round table brief "Mapping the Links between Russian Influence and Media Capture in Black Sea Countries"

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events-1884Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:09:00 +0000Tackling Russian Economic Footprint in the Western Balkanshttps://csd.bg/events/event/tackling-russian-economic-footprint-in-the-western-balkans/On 21 February, 2018, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) hosted the panel Tackling Foreign Economic Footprint in the Western Balkans in cooperation with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Center for the Study of Democracy. Jerzy Pomianowski, EED Executive Director, opened the event.On 21 February, 2018, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) hosted the panel Tackling Foreign Economic Footprint in the Western Balkans in cooperation with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Center for the Study of Democracy. Jerzy Pomianowski, EED Executive Director, opened the event.

The panel presented how governance gaps create opportunities for the inflow of corrosive capital, and how this capital in turn exacerbates those governance gaps in four Western Balkan countries. The assessments were written by the Center for the Study of Democracy and a network of local experts in Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the support of CIPE.

Ruslan Stefanov, Director of Bulgarian Center for the Study of Democracy, explained the process behind developing the methodology to measure Russia’s economic footprint in the Western Balkans and noted the difficulty local experts had in accessing the necessary information. Stefanov also stressed that the focus should not be on the footprint alone, but on the governance gaps in the Balkans that allow for the proliferation of corrosive capital. “The nature of corrosive capital is the lack of a clear-cut border between politics and economics,” Stefanov said.

The panelists called on the European Union to take a strong stance on governance gaps in the Western Balkans, while providing support to local civil society in closing those gaps, in collaboration with the local administrations.

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events-1882Tue, 30 Jan 2018 00:00:00 +0000Foreign Meddling in the Western Balkans: Guarding against Economic Vulnerabilitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/foreign-meddling-in-the-western-balkans-guarding-against-economic-vulnerabilities/The Center for the Study of Democracy participated at a briefing at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, held on 30 January 2018 in Washington D.C. The participants in the briefing noted that malign outside influence in the Western Balkans, in particular by Russia, is of increasing concern. The lack of a strong legal framework makes countries in the region especially vulnerable to foreign capital that can be used to sow instability, undermine integration, and delay democratic development. The discussion also highlighted how the United States and Europe can help boost economic resiliency, encourage good governance, and protect democracy in the Western Balkans. The Center for the Study of Democracy participated at a briefing at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, held on 30 January 2018 in Washington D.C. The participants in the briefing noted that malign outside influence in the Western Balkans, in particular by Russia, is of increasing concern. The lack of a strong legal framework makes countries in the region especially vulnerable to foreign capital that can be used to sow instability, undermine integration, and delay democratic development. The discussion also highlighted how the United States and Europe can help boost economic resiliency, encourage good governance, and protect democracy in the Western Balkans. 

In an attempt to improve the understanding of this process, the Center for the Study of Democracy developed assessments of the Russian economic footprint in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented at the event. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Economic Program, Center for the Study of Democracy made a short statement, further explaining that the indirect footprint of Russian companies goes through several channels, including 1) the dependence of local companies on imports of Russian raw materials such as natural gas; 2) debts accumulated for gas supply; and 3) the dependence of domestic companies on exports to Russia or loans provided by Russia-controlled banks. He recommended that all infrastructure projects be in compliance with the highest standards for transparency and competitive tendering, and subject to independent cost-benefit analysis. 

Helsinki Commission Briefing to Assesses Foreign Economic Influence in the Western Balkans 
Statement by the Center for the Study of Democracy regarding Russia’s Economic Footprint in the Western Balkans 
Facebook Live Webcast of the Briefing: Foreign Meddling in the Western Balkans 
Podcasts at the CIPE Development Blog: CIPE and the Helsinki Commission Look at the Impact of Russian Investments in Four Western Balkan Nations
 

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events-1880Love Moves: The Rights of Recognized Same-Sex Partners Moving Across the EUhttps://csd.bg/events/event/love-moves-the-rights-of-recognized-same-sex-partners-moving-across-the-eu/Homophobia and unequal treatment for LGBTI people remain widespread across the EU. While indicators vary in the different Member States and the situation seems more favorable in some, compared to others, data shows that no country has achieved full LGBTI equality. Bulgaria is among the countries where the situation remains quite unfavorable. According to the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map (2016), which shows the human rights situation of LGBTI people across the EU, Bulgaria scores 24 % (with 100 % denoting “rights fully respected” and 0 % denoting “violations, discrimination”).Homophobia and unequal treatment for LGBTI people remain widespread across the EU. While indicators vary in the different Member States and the situation seems more favorable in some, compared to others, data shows that no country has achieved full LGBTI equality. Bulgaria is among the countries where the situation remains quite unfavorable. According to the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map (2016), which shows the human rights situation of LGBTI people across the EU, Bulgaria scores 24 % (with 100 % denoting “rights fully respected” and 0 % denoting “violations, discrimination”).

On 24 January 2018 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted the first Workshop along the national initiative for conducting a study on the situation of same-sex couples with recognition in another EU Member State who travel and reside in Bulgaria. The initiative is aimed to Identify discrimination practices of Member States which don’t acknowledge the rights of same-sex couples recognized in another EU country jurisdiction and thus violate the right of free movement within the European Union. Participants in the seminar were representatives of the partnering organizations Youth LGBT Organization Deystvie, GLAS Bulgaria Foundation, Resource Center Bilitis Foundation and Marginalia.

Liliya Dragoeva, analyst at the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the framework of the initiative and stressed on its aims and activities. The session was continued with a discussion pointing out the need for raising awareness among the LGBTI community in Bulgaria and abroad about the limitations regarding freedom of movement across the EU which same-sex couples face. The participants also underlined the importance of putting the topic of discrimination of same-sex couples from other EU Member States in Bulgaria high on the public agenda.

Dr Mila Mancheva, Director of the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented research methodology for conducting a national study on the situation of same-sex couples with recognition in another EU Member State who travel and reside in Bulgaria. Aimed Following the conduct of the study and based on its results an awareness rising strategy will be developed with the aim to trigger improvements in the treatment of the LGBT community and targeting the relevant authorities and the general public.

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events-1878Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000Counter Terrorism: Bush, Obama, and Trump Policieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/counter-terrorism-bush-obama-and-trump-policies/Whilst the US counter-terrorism policy is still being debated within the Trump Administration, there are already indications that it will remain consistent with the underlying trend observed under the Bush and Obama Administrations, whereby terrorism is framed as a foreign rather than a domestic threat against which America must protect itself with stronger borders, travel restrictions, and reductions in refugee flows and immigration as part of an open-ended conflict. Yet, in the absence of a major terrorist crisis requiring hard decisions and testing views, Trump’s counterterrorist policy is largely judged on the basis of his speeches, remarks to reporters, and tweets. This was one of the main conclusions of a roundtable on the US counter-terrorism policy organised by the Centre for the Study of Democracy following the publication of a report by the RAND Corporation entitled The Origins of America’s Jihadists which shows that US jihadists are not ‘imported’ but rather, home-grown. The round table gathered Bulgarian policy makers, experts and Sofia-based diplomats.Whilst the US counter-terrorism policy is still being debated within the Trump Administration, there are already indications that it will remain consistent with the underlying trend observed under the Bush and Obama Administrations, whereby terrorism is framed as a foreign rather than a domestic threat against which America must protect itself with stronger borders, travel restrictions, and reductions in refugee flows and immigration as part of an open-ended conflict. Yet, in the absence of a major terrorist crisis requiring hard decisions and testing views, Trump’s counterterrorist policy is largely judged on the basis of his speeches, remarks to reporters, and tweets. This was one of the main conclusions of a roundtable on the US counter-terrorism policy organised by the Centre for the Study of Democracy following the publication of a report by the RAND Corporation entitled The Origins of America’s Jihadists which shows that US jihadists are not ‘imported’ but rather, home-grown. The round table gathered Bulgarian policy makers, experts and Sofia-based diplomats.

At the roundtable held on 12 December 2017Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President of the RAND Corporation pointed out that the USA still maintains its military presence in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The Trump Administration has sent a reinforcement of troops to Afghanistan. In contrast to its predecessor, geopolitically President Trump has moved explicitly closer to Saudi Arabia and hardened the US stance on Iran. Another departure from the policy line maintained by the Obama Administration is the reduced emphasis on “soft power” and the human rights agenda, something evident in the termination of support for the Syrian rebel movement.

The domestic context within Syria remains complex. ISIS has been defeated territorially but not ideologically, which in turn provides favourable conditions for a continuing underground insurgency within a destabilised country with sharp sectarian divides. As the government struggles to maintain control both politically and militarily, the role of foreign actors, including Iran, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel and their competing interests in determining the future of Syria is likely to become ever more important.

 

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events-1876Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000Victims of Crime – New Trends in Identifying, Needs Assessment and Referral in Bulgaria and the EUhttps://csd.bg/events/event/victims-of-crime-new-trends-in-identifying-needs-assessment-and-referral-in-bulgaria-and-the-eu/Despite the transposition of the EU acquis on the protection of victims of crime, Bulgaria is still lagging behind in providing victims adequate support and participation in criminal proceedings. This was the conclusion reached by participants in the round table Victims of Crime – New Trends in Identifying, Needs Assessment and Referral in Bulgaria and the EU held by the Center for the study of Democracy on 8 December 2017. The event gathered magistrates, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the social assistance services and NGOs.Despite the transposition of the EU acquis on the protection of victims of crime, Bulgaria is still lagging behind in providing victims adequate support and participation in criminal proceedings. This was the conclusion reached by participants in the round table Victims of Crime – New Trends in Identifying, Needs Assessment and Referral in Bulgaria and the EU held by the Center for the study of Democracy on 8 December 2017. The event gathered magistrates, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the social assistance services and NGOs.

In his opening remarks Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst at the CSD Law Program, outlined the main research and practical achievements of the Center in the area of improving the situation of victims of crime, such as a comprehensive report contributing to the drafting of relevant EU legislation, factsheets on the European e-Justice portal and a number of initiatives in the area of legal aid to victims of crime and the involvement of NGOs in their protection.

Prof. Dr. Dobrinka Chankova, criminal procedure professor at the Neofit Rilski South-West University, presented a selection of good practices from Cyprus, Estonia and the Netherlands concerning the rights of child victims of crime and integrated services provision to victims of gender-based violence. Inspector Desislava Viktorova from the National Police General Directorate summarized the latest data on victims of crime in Bulgaria and the challenges in victim identification faced by police officers. She also mentioned the need to differentiate between authentic and false complaints for committed crimes filed at the police and to counter the latter.

Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow at the CSD Law Program, focused on practices from Poland, Austria and Cyprus exemplary of integrated multidisciplinary work with victims of sexual and gender-based violence. She also dwelt on the amendments to the Law on Assistance and Financial Compensation of Victims of Crime and the Criminal Procedure Code made in relations to transposing Directive 2012/29/ЕU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA.

Prosecutor Ivaylo Iliev, Administrative Head of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Kyustendil, presented a critical overview of the criminal procedure provisions on the rights of victims of crime introduced in recent years. He stressed on some of the challenges the prosecution faces and the need to improve the conditions in which practitioners work with victims, such as raising the fees of interpreters and allocating resources to fit up ‘blue rooms’ for interviewing children and provide video conferencing equipment.

In the discussion that followed participants pointed to the outstanding challenges in the process of supporting victims of grave premeditated crimes and to the need to transfer foreign models into local practice only after adapting them to Bulgarian conditions.

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events-1874Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000Protection of the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beingshttps://csd.bg/events/event/protection-of-the-rights-of-victims-of-trafficking-in-human-beings/In order for the referral, support and protection of the rights of victims of trafficking of human beings (THB) to be effective, stakeholders need to work in cooperation towards a common goal and each of them should understand the others’ perspectives. This was the conclusion reached by the participants in the two-day training seminar Multidisciplinary Approach to Effective Referral, Support and Protection of the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 7–8 December 2017. The event gathered prosecutors, lawyers, and officials from the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, the Agency for Social Assistance, the National Legal Aid Bureau, the Ministry of the Interior, the State Agency for Refugees and a number of NGOs. The trainees were given a Manual on the Multidisciplinary Approach elaborated as part of the initiative under which the training was delivered.In order for the referral, support and protection of the rights of victims of trafficking of human beings (THB) to be effective, stakeholders need to work in cooperation towards a common goal and each of them should understand the others’ perspectives. This was the conclusion reached by the participants in the two-day training seminar Multidisciplinary Approach to Effective Referral, Support and Protection of the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 7–8 December 2017. The event gathered prosecutors, lawyers, and officials from the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, the Agency for Social Assistance, the National Legal Aid Bureau, the Ministry of the Interior, the State Agency for Refugees and a number of NGOs. The trainees were given a Manual on the Multidisciplinary Approach elaborated as part of the initiative under which the training was delivered.

In her opening remarks Law Program Director Dr. Maria Yordanova noted that the topic of victims of crime, those of human trafficking in particular, is a key priority in the Center’s legislation and policy drafting efforts. CSD researchers have worked on initiatives aiming to enhance the integration of child victims of trafficking, analyse the role of the Internet in THB, and improve the provision of legal aid to victims of crime.

In the first training session Vladimir Nikolov, prosecutor at the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Pleven, outlined the international and domestic legal framework for combating THB and protecting victims of THB, as well as the mechanisms for victims’ referral between institutions. Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow at the CSD Law Program, focused on the importance of Codes of Ethics for practitioners working with THB victims, which are an indispensable tool for the adequate treatment of victims in the course of and beyond criminal proceedings. During the discussion, participants pointed to several areas where legislative amendments are needed to improve the situations of victims: healthcare, employment, social service financing, prostitution regulation / incrimination, child protection.

The second session was dedicated to secondary victimization. Diana Videva, Project Coordinator at the Demetra Association, reviewed the main characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder often affecting victims of THB and the situations in which criminal justice authorities often additionally traumatize victims. Petya Dobreva, Director for Legal Aid at the National Legal Aid Bureau, examined the ways in which public defenders‘ capacity for working with victims of THB could be enhanced and common procedures for approaching such victims could be created. Trainees discussed the case of a victim of trafficking for the purpose of begging who should be convinced to participate in the proceedings against the traffickers despite her distrust to institutions. They engaged in a role play where a victim of THB is interrogated by a prosecutor in the presence of a psychologist from a crisis centre. The role play was followed by a heated discussion on the role of supporting staff in the work of the criminal justice system with victims and on the tough balance between observing procedural norms and securing a safe environment for victims, as well as between random case distribution and magistrates’ specialization.

In the thirds training session Diana Videva reviewed the benefits for both the victims and the criminal procedure of psychologists’ and social workers’ involvement in the communication between victims and institutions. The case presented was of a victim in a state of severe anger accompanied by outbursts of aggression whom supporting professionals should prepare for the criminal proceedings. Participants discussed a number of possible coordination mechanisms on the local level in facilitating the collaboration between prosecution offices, police departments and crisis centres and stressed that these should be formally regulated by the law.

In the last session Ms. Videva examined the specifics of multidisciplinary work in cases of transnational THB. Tanya Gyunova, Secretary of the Local Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in Pazardzhik, presented several cases from the commission’s practice – some successful, with the victims coping and managing to reintegrate into society, while others challenging, with the victims turning unable to get away from the traffickers. A case study – of a victim returning home from France where an action is taken against traffickers and a financial compensation is about to be adjudicated, was discussed in detail. The role of the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in coordinating institutional response, especially in transnational trafficking, was reiterated and made clear to participants.

 

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events-1950Practices for Provision of Orientation and Information to Enhance the Integration of Beneficiaries of International Protectionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/practices-for-provision-of-orientation-and-information-to-enhance-the-integration-of-beneficiaries-o-1/Since 2014 the countries of the European Union face intensified inflows of asylum seekers with the number of asylum claims coming up to nearly 1,4 million in 2015, over 1,2 million in 2016 and above 500 000 between January and October 2017. The considerable inflow of forced migrants coming predominantly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq called for reconsideration of the structures and functionalities of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and for expansion and improvement of the reception and integration systems across all member states.

The provision of relevant information and orientation becomes key component in the process of reception and integration of beneficiaries of international protection. This was the topic put at the centre of the training seminar “Facilitating the Integration of Beneficiaries of International Protection by Provision of Orientation and Information”, organized by the Centre for the Study of Democracy in Sofia between 29 November and 1 December 2017.

The seminar gathered professionals in the refugee reception and support field from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain who discussed possibilities to transfer, adapt or invent approaches and tools in the provision of orientation and information support to beneficiaries of international protection. The training was provided by professionals from Italy and Spain working at refugee support organisations with a mandate to implement government run reception and integration programs in the two countries.

Valentina Fabbri and Sebastiana Masuri from the Italian Cooperative Programma INTEGRA conducted two training sessions the one dealing with practical overview of the methods and mechanisms for integration of refugees in Italy and the other with the design and implementation of practical tools for job orientation. The sessions were built along the discussion of case studies and the roles and functions of the assistance teams working with them.

Karina Zubiaga and Susanna Nicolas from the Catalan Commission for Assistance of Refugees (CCAR) conducted two more training sessions. The first one provided practical information on the three-stage Spanish program for reception and integration of refugees which involves tools for support of up to 18 months per beneficiary. The second session presented concrete action tools conceptualized around group work to support refugees in the process of language acquisition, job orientation and overall adjustment and adaptation to the Spanish society.

In the last day, December 1st, participants from Bulgaria, Greece and Malta presented concepts for the development of training modules to facilitate the orientation and integration of beneficiaries of international protection in each of the three countries. The concepts were presented respectively by Rosa Vasilaki from ELIAMEP and Dilara Demir from MELISSA Network in Greece, Mila Mancheva from CSD in Bulgaria and Marcella Pisotti from People for Change Foundation in Malta. In the discussion that followed participants agreed that the modules should be directed at social workers so as to aid their work with beneficiaries of international protection and thus support the enhancement of the assistance and integration systems in the three member states. Some of the main topics to be included in the mdules stressed by the presenter included: cultural orientation, civic education, job orientation, women’s rights, health and the role of women in European societies, access to justice and basic services including inter-cultural competences.

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events-1848The New Enlargement Strategy for the Western Balkans: How to Enhance Civil Society Role in Anti-Corruption and Good Governancehttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-new-enlargement-strategy-for-the-western-balkans-how-to-enhance-civil-society-role-in-anti-corr/Facilitated by the Bulgarian and Austrian EU Council presidencies, as well as by shifting European focus towards to region, 2018 will grant Western Balkans an unprecedented access to the EU. Further European initiatives, especially the Berlin Process and the upcoming new Enlargement Strategy, will also contribute to the strategic importance of the upcoming 12 months.Facilitated by the Bulgarian and Austrian EU Council presidencies, as well as by shifting European focus towards to region, 2018 will grant Western Balkans an unprecedented access to the EU. Further European initiatives, especially the Berlin Process and the upcoming new Enlargement Strategy, will also contribute to the strategic importance of the upcoming 12 months. These prospects will provide opportunities for closer EU integration of the region. But national governments will have to take ownership of their own integration process though demonstrating tangible results and concrete progress in both economic governance and anti-corruption.

Civil society has a key role to play in this process. Anti-corruption has to be addressed both comprehensively and horizontally with the increasing prioritization of economic governance. This needs to be channeled through clear commitment on part of the Western Balkan countries and establishment of sustainable wide cooperation platform, involving decision-makers, CSOs, the business sector, as well as local, national and regional initiatives. These were some of the key messages communicated during the roundtable discussion ‘The New Enlargement Strategy for the Western Balkans: How to Enhance Civil Society Role in Anti-Corruption and Good Governance’, held in Podgorica, Montenegro, on 28 November 2017.

The principles of locality and target funding for CSOs will play an important role for such a cooperation to be successful. Ensuring independent evaluation, effective monitoring and assessment by CSOs should be prioritized. Western Balkan countries need to commit to establishing and promoting proper functioning of core institutions necessary for securing the rule of law. Prosecuting high-level corruption, fighting organized crime and corruption are hereby considered fundamental to countering the criminal infiltration of the political, legal and economic systems. The role of the public administration also needs to be highlighted, especially understood as impact-orientated, going beyond the current image of a formal technocratic process, alienated from the citizens.










Photo Gallery
 

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events-1845Cross-Border Organised Crime in the Context of the Migrant Crisishttps://csd.bg/events/event/cross-border-organised-crime-in-the-context-of-the-migrant-crisis/The recent migration and refuge crisis poses significant challenges to European governments. The unprecedented migration pressure provided many avenues for the generation of major profits by organised criminal networks. The recent migration and refuge crisis poses significant challenges to European governments. The unprecedented migration pressure provided many avenues for the generation of major profits by organised criminal networks. The large influx of irregular migrants looking for facilitation has led to the evolvement of human smuggling as a substantial criminal market in Europe. On the other hand some countries have experienced a concurrent rise in human trafficking cases.

How have cross-border organised crime networks and markets adapted to the migration crisis? How effective was the response of law enforcement bodies towards evolving threats such as human smuggling in both, transit and destination countries for irregular migrants? These are among the core issues examined in a study conducted by the Center for the Study of Democracy in cooperation with the Norwegian Police University College, and discussed during the conference “Cross-border Organised Crime in the Context of the Migrant Crisis”, held on 31 October 2017 in Sofia.

Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program at the CSD, introduced the main points for discussion during the event, noting that the way criminal markets and groups are impacted by and adapt to external developments of the magnitude of the recent migrant crisis has not been the focus of an in-depth discussion so far.

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow and Nadya Stoynova, Analyst at the Security Program presented the findings of the first in-depth study of human smuggling in Bulgaria. The authors discussed different aspects of the organisation of human smuggling operations, including their historical development and the effects of the migrant crisis, the networks involved, the financial aspects of the crime as well as the relation with other criminal activities. Human smuggling networks emerged already in the 1990s and readily adapted to changes in the migrants’ profiles and desired destinations. Since 2013, the migrant crisis significantly increased the demand for facilitation services leading to the expansion of existing networks, the emergence of new ones and the involvement of a significant portion of the criminal underground. Despite the magnitude of smuggling operations, the response of the Bulgarian institutions was delayed and insufficient, largely failing to bring about the dismantling of smuggling networks.

Prof. Paul Larsson, Associate Professor at the Norwegian Police University College, discussed practices and challenges to policing human trafficking and human smuggling in Norway, where the threat of organised crime has been traditionally associated with drug crime. Nevertheless, human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation is another criminal activity that has become a priority for the police. Difficulties in countering trafficking in Norway include the international character of the crime, the reluctance of victims to cooperate, as well as the availability of resources to conduct complex investigations. Therefore, the dark number of unidentified cases is likely large. The response to human trafficking would benefit from the accumulation of more expertise, strengthened international cooperation and preventive initiatives. On the other hand, human smuggling so far has not been considered a major threat, although more police attention is being devoted to the issue recently. At the same time, countering human smuggling is plagued by similar challenges as those encountered with regard to human trafficking.

The approach of Bulgarian law enforcement bodies in countering illegal migration and smuggling was discussed by Inspector Mihail Dimitrov of the General Directorate Border Police (GDBP), Chief Inspector Dimitar Kangaldhziev of the General Directorate National Police (GDNP) and Inspector Petar Petrov of the General Directorate Combating Organised Crime (GDCOC). In response to the increased migration pressure at Bulgarian borders over the past few years, the GDCOC and GDNP have been increasingly involved in countering human smuggling, while the GDBP’s capacity has been strengthened by support from Frontex and advancements in border surveillance equipment. In addition, efforts have been made to establish effective channels of cooperation and information exchange between the different competent bodies. However, despite an accumulation of expertise, the police notes challenges with regard to the availability of resources (е.g. translators competent in the languages of the migrants and some perpetrators) and proving criminal activity due to specificities in the crime and its cross-border component.

Slavyanka Ivanova, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program, explored the way new technologies have been utilized to aid human trafficking and human smuggling. The internet, social media and mobile apps are important tools with significant potential for the successful recruitment of victims for exploitation in labor and sexual services, while with regard to human smuggling, they facilitate the communication between the migrants and the smugglers.

Report 'Cross-border organised crime: Bulgaria and Norway in the Context of the Migrant Crisis'

 

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events-1846Priorities for the Bulgarian Energy Sector until 2050: Strategic Vulnerabilitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/priorities-for-the-bulgarian-energy-sector-until-2050-strategic-vulnerabilities/Bulgaria and Europe have reached an energy crossroads. To meet the European Energy Union’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission in the electricity sector by over 90% until 2050, they should transform their energy systems, taking into account the inevitable socio-economic implications. Bulgaria and Europe have reached an energy crossroads. To meet the European Energy Union’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission in the electricity sector by over 90% until 2050, they should transform their energy systems, taking into account the inevitable socio-economic implications. Within this strategic framework, Bulgaria should clearly state its objectives and outline its key policies and the topics for public debate needed to achieve them. These were some of the conclusions of the policy round table Priorities for the Bulgarian Energy Sector until 2050: European Perspectives and Strategic Vulnerabilities organised by the Center of the Study of Democracy on 31 October 2017.

The CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov and the Director of Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Bulgaria Office Mr. Thorsten Geissler opened the round table. They outlined the main energy security risks for Bulgaria within the European Energy Union’s framework. Dr. Shentov pointed out that Bulgarian public bodies continue taking long-term energy decisions (such as the construction of a new large nuclear power facility) without any effective energy policy planning mechanism based on a cost-benefit analysis. Mr. Geissler spoke of the energy priorities of Europe and Germany: secure energy, energy efficiency, decarbonisation of the electricity sector based on renewable energy resources (RES), and the phasing out of nuclear power.

Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at CSD’s Economic Program, presented three scenarios for complete decarbonisation of the electricity sector by 2050 based on data and modelling used by the European Commission. The results of the modelling work on Bulgaria show that under the scenario with an ambitious decarbonisation target and corresponding support schemes for renewable energy sources, the country would have an electricity mix with 53-54% renewable generation, mostly solar and wind, and some hydro-power by 2050. By then, due to the rising electricity prices resulting from more expensive carbon emissions and natural gas prices, more than two thirds of the needed investments in new RES capacity will be private market-based, rather than state subsidised investment. State support for RES technologies will be funded through the sale of carbon emission quotas, rather than power price based subsidising mechanisms. As per the scenarios, coal based generation capacities are expected to be priced out of the market by 2040, while a new nuclear capacity would not be financially viable and justified.

The main findings of the scenarios were discussed by a panel of speakers including Dr. Ivan Ivanov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, Delyan Dobrev, Chair of the Parliamentary Energy Committee. Dr. Ivanov underscored that Bulgaria would not need new large-scale generation capacities at least until 2035. He added that in the long term, the country would have to meet the EU goals, among which is the closing down of the large coal burning plants in the Maritsa basin. He noted that the promotion of new RES capacities will be completely funded through greenhouse gas quota sales, while preferential feed-in tarrifs will remain only for roof solar panels and passive solar buildings. Ivanov’s forecast was more optimistic than the scenarios presented, including a more gradual electricity price increase due to dropping consumption, rising energy efficiency and the demographic crisis leading to lower electricity demand across the country.

Delyan Dobrev focused on the need of greater investment in energy efficiency. He quoted data from the ongoing national scheme for multi-story building renovation showing power savings of close to 1 TWh to date, which is equal to the power produced by a generating capacity of 140 MWh. Dobrev emphasised the role of natural gas in Bulgaria’s energy system, noting that the possible discovery of sizable gas deposits in the Black Sea shelf would alter significantly the decarbonisation scenarios. In this case, he stressed natural gas would have a much larger share in the country’s electricity mix, its lower price making gas power plants more competitive in a liberalised power market.

In the discussions that followed, Mr. Martin Dimitrov, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Policy, Energy and Tourism (2009–2013), and Mr. Traicho Traikov, Minister of Energy and Tourism (2009–2012), supported the view that Bulgaria should first of all adopt a transparent, data-based decision-making framework based on detailed scenarios before embracing expensive large-scale projects such as the Belene nuclear power plant, the latter project being, according to Traikov, a severe problem, rather than a solution for the country’s energy security. Mr. Ivan Hinovski of the Bulgarian Energy Forum and Mr. Petko Kovachev of the Green Policy Institute were also more positive on the use of natural gas and RES respectively, as factors that could change the presented scenarios to an earlier pricing out of the market of coal-fired power plants.







CSD Policy Brief No. 70: A Roadmap for the Development of the Bulgarian Electricity Sector within the EU Until 2050: Focus on Fundamentals

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

Photo Gallery

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events-1844Effective Prevention of Corruption through Risk Assessmenthttps://csd.bg/events/event/effective-prevention-of-corruption-through-risk-assessment/Experts from ministries of justice, anti-corruption bodies and non-governmental organisations from South East Europe, gathered in Ljubljana, Slovenia to discuss the implementation of corruption risk assessments and corruption proofing of legislation across the region. Over 60 experts from ministries of justice, anti-corruption bodies and non-governmental organisations from South East Europe (SEE), gathered in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 25-26 October 2017 to discuss the implementation of corruption risk assessments (CRA) and corruption proofing of legislation (CPL) across the region. The participants reviewed the patterns of corruption in society and focused on specific corruption-related occurrences in SEE economies.

The forum, organized by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI), in cooperation with SELDI, made important contributions for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of corruption proofing and risks assessments. It remains essential that authorities look out for the three key legislative risks: lack of sanctions; excessive discretion and ambiguity of language. Though public authorities in SEE still encounter multiple risks and challenges, including lack of awareness, low human resources capacity, legal deadlocks, etc., good practices prevail. A notable example is the case of Moldova, which has had positive experience implementing strong CRA methodology and producing tangible results. Other positive trends discussed included: top-down approaches for identifying corruption risks, integrity plans, sectoral Anti-Corruption Plans, prepared as result of the CRA, and risk assessment methodologies used in the private sector.

In a separate panel discussion, SELDI presented its experience and future plans, seeking to deepen its public-private cooperation with public authorities across the region. During the upcoming four years the coalition aims to further its policy impact not only on national and region levels, but also locally, enhancing the capacity of grassroots organizations to influence the decision-making process. SELDI will continue to apply its, already recognized by national and local actors, corruption monitoring instruments, while focusing on enforcement of anti-corruption policies at institutional level and on the assessment of emerging threats, most notably the state capture phenomenon.

For additional information on the main conclusion and topics, discussed during the conference, visit the official webpages of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI). For more insight into the CRA and CPL methodologies, developed and implemented by the RCC and RAI, see Anti-Corruption Assessment of Laws in South East Europe (‘Corruption Proofing’) and Corruption Risk Assessment in Public Institutions in South East Europe - Comparative Research and Methodology.






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events-1847Improving Bulgarian and Norwegian Law Enforcement Capacity for Tackling Cross-border Organised Crime in the Context of the Migrant Crisishttps://csd.bg/events/event/improving-bulgarian-and-norwegian-law-enforcement-capacity-for-tackling-cross-border-organised-crime/Experience and expertise exchange between European countries affected by transnational organised crime can foster the development of law enforcement approaches informed by best practices but suitable for addressing specific national contexts. Experience and expertise exchange between European countries affected by transnational organised crime can foster the development of law enforcement approaches informed by best practices but suitable for addressing specific national contexts. Strenghtening international cooperation can thus aid in increasing police capacity, recognising gaps in law enforcement practices and strengtening and adapting response towards emerging and established threats. The recent migrant and refugee crisis led to the emergence of new threats and trends in the activity of transnational organised crime such as the proliferation of human smuggling networks, as well as adaptation of traditional criminal markets to new profit opportunities. These require a timely reaction and adjustment of approach on the part of law enforcement authorities in both transit and destination countries for the illicit migration flow.

To strenghten police cooperation and contribute to improving police capacity in tackling cross-border organised crime, on 9 October 2017 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Norwegian Police University College (NPUC) organized a study visit in Oslo to facilitate exchange of experience between Bulgarian and Norwegian law enforcement bodies. The study visit was part of the initiative “Strengthening law enforcement responses to transnational organised crime in the context of the migrant crisis” and focused on discussing good practices in policing human smuggling and human trafficking in Bulgaria and Norway. Тhe seminar fostered successfully the exchange of experience and closer ties between relevant police bodies from the two countries and improved understanding of new cross-border criminal threats through sharing key research findings as a result of a joint study conducted by CSD and NPUC. The Bulgarian threat picture and key police measures to counter illicit migration and cross-border organised crime was introduced by representatives of the General Directorate Combatting Organised Crime, the General Directorate Border Police, the General Directorate National Police and the Directorate Internal Security. The Norwegian experience in tackling human trafficking and human smuggling was discussed by representatives from the National Criminal Investigation Service, the National Police Immigration Service and the National Police Directorate, as well as academic experts from NPUC as hosts.
 

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events-1842Free movement of young Europeans in times of crisishttps://csd.bg/events/event/free-movement-of-young-europeans-in-times-of-crisis/The right of free movement within the European Union is a way for young Europeans to achieve their adequate career path, following their education, and reach a better quality of life.The right of free movement within the European Union is a way for young Europeans to achieve their adequate career path, following their education, and reach a better quality of life. This was the conclusion of the seminar ‘ON-THE-MOVE – challenges before the free movement of young Europeans in times of crisis’, organized on 4 October 2017 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The event gathered representatives of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, the State Agency for Child Protection, NGOs working with Bulgarian communities in the EU and the US and returning young people, as well as representatives of the private sector.

Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main aims of the initiative, under which the seminar took place, and the challenges free movement faces – economic crisis, youth unemployment, as well as the growing number of terrorist attacks throughout Europe.

Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program, outlined the main stages of the research under the initiative, delineating aspects of the challenges free movement encounters. During the national phase, interviews had taken place with young people in process of free movement, during the comparative phase reports on groups of countries were drafted, while in the concluding phase useful manuals were produced. The manual for young people tackles the main models and stereotypes, hindering free movement, among which discrimination at the workplace, bureaucracy and language barriers. The manual for authorities presents promising practices from the 15 partner Member States in areas like information on free movement, prevention of brain drain, streamlining of administrative procedures, etc.

Angelina Kaneva, researcher under the project and graduate student at the London University, presented the main conclusions of the national phase on Bulgaria and the key push and pull factors for young Bulgarians to leave their home country and settle abroad. Among the push factors, there are the inadequate opportunities for professional development, the overwhelming corruption and political instability, while the pull factors include better living standard and options for personal and career growth. Barriers to free movement include the intensive competition when finding a job in the EU, instances of discrimination, language barriers and cultural differences.

Dimitar Kararusinov, state expert, Bulgarian Communities and Information Activities Directorate, State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, presented the Agency’s main priorities in registering, communication with and support for Bulgarian youth communities abroad, as well as for career fora in Bulgaria and other EU Member States via which Bulgarians can move back to their home country. A variety of quantitative and qualitative data was presented on the number of Bulgarians abroad, as well as on the different models Bulgarian students abroad use to associate for mutual support and presenting Bulgarian culture and traditions.

Yulia Georgieva, project manager at Tuk-Tam, outlined the organization’s numerous projects in support of young Bulgarians in process of movement to the EU or the USA, of Bulgarians throughout the world and those returning to the country. Among those are the career forum ‘Career in Bulgaria. Why not?’, whose last edition gathered over 1000 candidates and over 100 companies, and the master programme scholarship fund ‘Go, study and come back’, supported by a number of personal and corporate donors. The organization has ambassadors in a number of countries throughout the world and maintains a rich information fund on studying abroad.

The ensuing discussion pointed to the lack of reliable data on the number of Bulgarians moving to different EU Member States and returning back to Bulgaria to work in marketing, management and IT. The participants reached the conclusion that the modern young European has a high degree of mobility and no one-way trajectory can be true to reality. The moral and practical dimensions of the return of young Europeans to help their home countries were discussed, as well as the intolerance to differences as a push factor. The importance of the co-operation among the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Employment Agency, the Bulgarian Investment Agency and the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad was emphasized in creating conditions for the return of highly qualified experts.





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events-1841Roma Youth and Youth Guarantee measures in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romaniahttps://csd.bg/events/event/roma-youth-and-youth-guarantee-measures-in-bulgaria-hungary-and-romania/Between 2013 and 2016, the EU member states started the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Programme aimed at NEET youth (youth not in employment, education or training). In Bulgaria, as well as in Hungary and Romania, substantial part of the youth in similar situation originate from Roma communities. Between 2013 and 2016, the EU member states started the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Programme aimed at NEET youth (youth not in employment, education or training). In Bulgaria, as well as in Hungary and Romania, substantial part of the youth in similar situation originate from Roma communities.

On 27th and 28th of September, 2017 the Center for the Study of Democracy conducted a kick-off meeting within the framework of an international initiative for Facilitating access to and take up of Youth Guarantee measures by Roma youth in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. At the meeting, methodology and indicators for study on the involvement of Roma youth in the Youth Guarantee Programme was discussed, as well as a strategy for dissemination of results and advocacy activities at local, national and regional level.

Mila Mancheva, Director of the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy launched the event with presentation of the activities and experience of the Programme. Liliya Dragoeva, Programme Assistant at the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the main goals and activities to be implemented within the initiative. Slavyanka Ivanova, Senior Researcher at the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy proposed methodology and indicators for study on the inclusion of Roma youth in the Youth Guarantee Programme. The study envisages gathering of existing data from the statistical offices and employment offices in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania and in-depth qualitative study in 30 settlements that will include the viewpoints of the main local stakeholders. Petra Reszkető from the Budapest Institute, Alexandra Toderiță from the Romanian Center for European Policies and Albert Memeti from Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (Romania) presented the strengths and resources of their organisations that might be employed for the implementation of the initiative and outlined main challenges for the planning and implementation of the research and advocacy activities at national level for their countries. Gancho Iliev from World without Borders Association (Bulgaria) presented main ideas for implementation of advocacy activities at local level in Bulgaria, stressing the involvement of educational institutions and the offering of interesting and attractive qualification and type of jobs to the young people.

The second day of the meeting was launched by Liliya Dragoeva, who presented the priorities of the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the opportunities for implementation of advocacy activities within the framework of the announced events. She stressed the necessity of joint work with the Roma Standing Conference in Bulgaria for inclusion of the Roma integration among the topics of the Presidency and of participation in selected events to present the conclusions and recommendations of the forthcoming study. As most appropriate events were identified those connected with the Danube strategy, the Non-Formal Council on Employment, Social Policy, Healthcare and Consumer Issues, as well as the Public Employment Services Network Meeting. Alexandra Toderiță from the Romanian Center for European Policies noted that more opportunities for advocacy activities would be available in the framework of the Romania Presidency in 2019, because the programme is not adopted yet and steps could be made for inclusion of specific topics and events in it. Slavyanka Ivanova presented a concept for internet portal dedicated to Roma inclusion-connected initiatives, to serve the dissemination of the results of the commenced initiative. The portal will be intended to present news, data, results, recommendations of the current and possible future initiatives connected with Roma integration, as well as useful links to webpages of organisations working in the field.

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events-1949International Seminar and Study Visit in Cataloniahttps://csd.bg/events/event/international-seminar-and-study-visit-in-catalonia/Between 12 and 14 July, 2017 Center for the Study of Democracy organised a study visit to Barcelona for the purpose of acquainting representatives of relevant institutions with the system of reception and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Catalonia. The Bulgarian delegation included representatives of the State Agency for Refugees at the Council of Ministers, the Bulgarian Red Coss, CVS Bulgaria and CSD. The study visit was joined by delegations from Greece, Italy and Malta and was hosted by the service providing organisation Catalan Commission for Refugees(CCAR).
The international delegation visited range of institutions such as reception centers in Barcelona, Sabadell and Sant Boi, different local municipalities and service providing organisations such as ACCEM, the Autonomous Solidarity Foundation, ACATHI and Centre Exil. In addition to the study visit, the 18 participants from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Malta took part in an international seminar and had the opportunity to discuss matters relating to reception, integration and training of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection with representatives of the Spanish Commission for Refugees, the Equality, Migration and Citizenship Department at the Catalan Government and the Barcelona city Council. In a final debate all participants exchanged information and experience coming from their own countries and discussed good practices in relation to what they learned from the Catalan experience.

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events-1837The EU Energy Union and the Russian Gas Projects: Energy Choices and Energy Security in Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-eu-energy-union-and-the-russian-gas-projects-energy-choices-and-energy-security-in-europe/Russia has been a critical but controversial energy supplier for Europe for centuries, and the way the EU and Russia energy strategies develop and interact in the decades to come is going to be important for the energy choices of European households. Gas has been a particular case in point in this regard. Russia has been a critical but controversial energy supplier for Europe for centuries, and the way the EU and Russia energy strategies develop and interact in the decades to come is going to be important for the energy choices of European households. Gas has been a particular case in point in this regard. The recent Russian gas energy projects seem to have been largely politically motivated with the aim of undermining the EU’s efforts to deepen its internal energy market and keep gas prices in Western and Eastern Europe apart, preserving Gazprom’s dominance on as many national markets in CEE as possible. Governance deficits in many of the CEE countries have contributed to a lack of policy consistency on the main energy security priorities of the region including diversification of gas routes, liberalization and integration of markets. These were some of the main conclusions of a round table discussion on the EU Energy Union and the Russian Gas Projects: Energy Choices and Energy Security in Europe held at the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) on 28 June, 2017.

Ilya Zaslavskiy, Academy Associate at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and Research Expert for Free Russia Foundation, presented his latest analysis on the The Kremlin’s Gas Games in Europe: Implications for Policy Makers, where he discusses the energy security implications of the Russian attempts to bypass existing transit routes and embark on new pipeline projects such as the Nord Stream 2 and the Turkish Stream pipelines. If built, the two projects would undermine the fragile economic and political stability of Ukraine, as well as the EU internal unity. Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at the CSD Economic Program, focused on the impact of the building of Nord Stream 2 on Bulgaria and the SEE region. Bulgaria, which is among the most dependent countries on Russian gas, would be disproportionately hurt by the completion of the Russian-German pipeline. Mr. Vladimirov cited the findings of a recent report by the Hungarian-based Regional Center for Energy Policy (REKK) in Budapest, which estimates that Bulgaria would face a negative economic effect from Nord Stream-2 worth around EUR 167 million. He noted that the building of pipelines circumventing the existing transit routes from Russia would necessitate the completion of new transmission infrastructure costing at least EUR 1 billion in Central and Eastern Europe, which would inevitably drive up wholesale gas prices. He juxtaposed the negative economic impact of Nord Stream-2 with the benefits of diversifying the gas supply to Bulgaria. The construction of the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), for example, would produce a positive economic outcome of close to EUR 1.2 billion, if existing transmission routes are shifted to the Baltic and Black Seas.

Mr. Vladimirov focused on several steps that may be taken to improve the Bulgarian gas supply security including:

  • The completion of the expansion of the natural gas storage, “Chiren”, to a total capacity of 1 bcm.

  • The construction of all interconnectors with Bulgaria’s neighbors with a priority given to the interconnector with Greece, which would enable the delivery of 1 bcm/yr of natural gas from the giant Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Basin.

  • The full liberalization of the natural gas market including the finalization of the entry-exit regime and the regulatory framework for virtual gas trading using the existing Transbalkan pipeline network.

These three solutions would provide Bulgarian consumers with more options to choose from, and could lead to the lowering of the carbon footprint of Bulgarian households.


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events-1836Improving Democratic Governance to Unlock Growth in Southeast Europe: Dialogue on Current Policies and Future Perspectiveshttps://csd.bg/events/event/improving-democratic-governance-to-unlock-growth-in-southeast-europe-dialogue-on-current-policies-a/The Berlin Process initiative opened a new chapter for EU integration of the Western Balkans countries, as the Southeast Europe (SEE) region continues to experience serious governance and democratic deficits. The Balkans Barometer 2016 of the Regional Cooperation Council shows that corruption remains one of the key concerns for the people in the Western Balkans. The Berlin Process initiative opened a new chapter for EU integration of the Western Balkans countries, as the Southeast Europe (SEE) region continues to experience serious governance and democratic deficits. The Balkans Barometer 2016 of the Regional Cooperation Council shows that corruption remains one of the key concerns for the people in the Western Balkans. Data from the Southeast Europe Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) network points to a stagnation at best in corruption victimization levels between 2014 and 2016, which denotes backsliding in terms of rule of law and democratic development in the region despite improvements in some of the countries. The SEE 2020 Strategy seeks to close such gaps through reinvigorating the regional economy and focusing on improving governance processes. But the economic growth, prioritized also by the Berlin process, cannot be achieved without improving governance, reducing systemic corruption, and tackling state capture. And while the European Union remains the key external anchor for reforms, it is regional civil society organizations that have a crucial role to play both in terms of addressing the existing challenges and of keeping good governance high on the regional and European policy agendas.

These and other issues were put forward during a roundtable discussion, organized on 19 June 2017 in Belgrade, by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the SELDI network, with the support of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). The round table gathered uner Chatham House Rules representatives from RCC, the Anticorruption Agency, Serbia, the Delegation of the European Commission in Belgrade, United States Department of Justice, Serbian CSOs and SELDI. Its outcomes are going to serve as a stepping stone for SELDI’s work in the region and cooperation with government and non-governmental organizations in further tackling corruption and state capture.

The discussions revealed that the sustained high and systemic administrative corruption in the region has turned into a precondition for state capture. Hence, the Berlin Process needs to support long-standing EC efforts to improve governance in the region by focusing on two distinct areas. On the one hand, finding a systematic counteraction to bribery and petty corruption through improving the work of the public administration and reducing the hidden economy, which would spur growth and jobs. On the other hand, the EU and governments from the region need to focus their criminal justice law enforcement efforts exclusively on higher level corruption cases and state capture. State capture subverts the logic of governance, as specific groups collude to use state institutions to their own private interest to the detriment of the public interest. In this environment, there is a need for reinforced partnership between regional CSO networks, the European institutions, and governments from the region.

Against these developments, country elites across Western Balkans understand the benefits of closer proximity and ultimately EU membership but at the same time have tried to downplay the role of EU conditionalities. Hence, the European Commission and member states need to carefully manage expectations from the Berlin Process noting that the increased attention to enhancing economic governance and growth would not come at the expense of rule of law and effective public administration objectives. At the same time the European Commission needs to make its support more visible and vocal and seek to firmly and decisively safeguard organisations in the region from being bullied and labeled as foreign agents, in particular the ones working in the anti-corruption and good governance domain. CSOs on their part have to focus on better outreach both regionally and nationally, in pursue of gaining wider public support. CSOs have to also continue increasing their cooperation with national institutions while adhering to high standards of transparency.




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events-1960Identification, needs assessment and referral of victims of crime in the EU and in Bulgaria – legal and social dimensionshttps://csd.bg/events/event/identification-needs-assessment-and-referral-of-victims-of-crime-in-the-eu-and-in-bulgaria-legal/Social services are seriously hampered in identifying, assessing individual needs and referring victims of crime to services due to lack of clarity and resulting gaps in legislation, due to which institutional functions are not comprehensively defined. This was the conclusion reached by the participants in the training seminar ‘Identification, needs assessment and referral of victims of crime in the EU and Bulgaria – legal and social dimensions’, organized on 31 May 2017 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. Representatives of the Social Assistance Agency, the State Agency for the Protection of Children, as well as of NGO victim service providers were present at the event.

Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst and Project Director at the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, summarized the long years of research experience of the Center on the topic of victims’ rights and outlined the scope of the seminar – the processes of identification, individual needs assessment and referral of victims by and among various institutions and organizations. He emphasized the need for a holistic approach towards victims and dwelt upon the contemporary social and political challenges before the system of criminal justice.

Prof Dr Dobrinka Chankova, criminal procedure professor at the Neofit Rilski South-West University, spoke about the conceptual bases for raising the status of victims on the national and supranational scene and gave a short overview of Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, as well as of other important acts of the Union, of the Council of Europe and of the UN, regulating the status and rights of victims. Particular attention was paid to the rights of victims to understand and be understood, to be informed about their entitlements and options for support, as well as to the norms regulating victim support and participating actors. Further on, she outlined Bulgarian legislation, related to victims, and the difficulties in transposing EU acts, hampering the everyday work of institutions and organizations involved.

Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, related to the participants the main objectives and parameters of the initiative, under which the seminar was held – the formation of national practices in identifying, assessment of needs and referral of victims, compliant with EU law. She outlined several promising practices from other Member States and presented the main conclusions and recommendations of the national report, prepared under the initiative. Recommendations tackled the co-ordination among institutions and organizations involved in victim protection and the delineation on legislative and practical level of each actor’s role in supporting and providing services to victims.

Participants discussed a hypothetical on victims of human trafficking and spoke about the identification and self-identification of victims, how probable it is for them to agree to be referred to services and for full reintegration to be achieved. A short video was offered on the application of restorative justice in the United Kingdom.

In the ensuing discussion representatives of NGO victim service providers raised the issue of assessing the specific needs of victims within the criminal procedure, as well as the importance of compensating victims’ moral damages, which current legislation hardly achieves. The representatives of the civic sector and social services dwelt upon getting the agreement of adult victims of crime to refer them to services, as well as upon the difficulties in obtaining medical aid for children victims of human trafficking. The need for the state not to abandon its duties towards victims and delegate most work to NGOs was strongly emphasized. A checklist on the compliance of national victims’ practices with EU law was also discussed.

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events-1962Victims of crime in EU and national law – identification, needs assessment and referralhttps://csd.bg/events/event/victims-of-crime-in-eu-and-national-law-identification-needs-assessment-and-referral/The work on identifying, individual needs assessment and referral of victims of crime is largely hampered by the lack of resources, specialized officers in each institution, as well as proper training. This was the conclusion reached by the participants in the training seminar ‘Victims of crime in EU and national law – identification, needs assessment and referral’, organized on 30 May 2017 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. Judges, representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice, as well as of NGO victim service providers were present at the event. 

Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, summarized the long years of research experience of the Center on the topic of victims’ rights and outlined the scope of the seminar – the processes of identification, individual needs assessment and referral of victims by and among various institutions and organizations.

Prof Dr Dobrinka Chankova, criminal procedure professor at the Neofit Rilski South-West University, spoke about the conceptual bases for raising the status of victims in the national and supranational legal order and gave a short overview of Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, as well as of other important acts of the Union, of the Council of Europe and of the UN, regulating the status and rights of victims. Particular attention was paid to the rights of victims in the criminal process, their rights to understand and be understood, as well as to be informed about their entitlements and options for support. Further on, she outlined Bulgarian legislation, related to victims, and the difficulties in transposing EU acts, hampering the everyday work of institutions and organizations involved. The role of restorative justice and the challenges before its application in the criminal sphere were specifically mentioned.

Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, related to the participants the main objectives and parameters of the initiative, under which the seminar was held – the formation of national practices in identifying, assessment of needs and referral of victims, compliant with EU law. She outlined several promising practices from other Member States and presented the main conclusions and recommendations of the national report, prepared under the initiative. Recommendations tackled the co-ordination among institutions and organizations involved in victim protection and the delineation on legislative and practical level of each actor’s role in supporting and providing services to victims.

Participants discussed a hypothetical on victims of human trafficking and spoke about the elements of the crimes committed, the identification of victims and their referral to proper services. A short video was offered on the application of restorative justice in the United Kingdom.

In the ensuing discussion the importance of advance compensation to victims for the damages they sustain was emphasized, as well as its lack in Bulgaria. The representatives of NGO service providers pointed to the difficulties the victims suffer from until the closing of criminal proceedings only after which they can get compensation. The representatives of police recalled the various functions, entrusted to them by legislation, and called for finding a practical mechanism for the implementation of their duties towards victims. The financial burdens for victims in getting medical certification for their injuries by forensic doctors were also mentioned. The compensation, provided for by Bulgarian legislation, was found inadequate, while the need for training of reception officers in police units was mentioned to be urgent. A checklist on the compliance of national victims’ practices with EU law was also discussed.

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events-1947International Seminar and Study visit in Italyhttps://csd.bg/events/event/international-seminar-and-study-visit-in-italy/Between 16 and 19 May, 2017 Center for the Study of Democracy organised a study visit to Rome for the purpose of acquainting representatives of relevant institutions with the system of reception and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Italy. The Bulgarian delegation included representatives of the State Agency for Refugees at the Council of Ministers, Sofia Municipality, CVS Bulgaria and CSD. The study visit was joined by delegations from Greece, Malta and Spain and was hosted by the Italian public policy institute CENSIS. The international delegation visited range of institutions such as Via Staderini, the largest first stage temporary reception Center in Italy; Casa Giorgia and S. Bernardo, second stage integration centers; as well as Programma Integra and Ciofs Fp Lacio, training bodies providing various training services to refugees. In addition to the study visit, the 21 participants from Bulgaria, Greece, Malta and Spain took part in an international seminar and had the opportunity to discuss matters relating to reception and integration of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection with representatives of the Central Directorate of Immigration and Asylum Civil Services at the Italian Ministry of Interior, the Italian Protection System for Asylum Seekers (SPRAR), the Municipality of Rome and a range of local level service providers. In a final debate all participants exchanged information and experience coming from their own countries and shared of ideas of promoting relevant good practices in the area of reception and integration of refugees.
 

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events-1834Independent Monitoring of Forced Return: Monitoring Standards in Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/independent-monitoring-of-forced-return-monitoring-standards-in-bulgaria/In the context of the increased migratory pressure on Europe in recent years, the European Union is actively seeking solutions to address the challenges it faces. The European Agenda on Migration 2015 focuses on enhancing the effectiveness of the return system by adopting a Return Handbook in order to standardize return practices in all Member States and develop stronger partnerships with third countries in the field of readmission.In the context of the increased migratory pressure on Europe in recent years, the European Union is actively seeking solutions to address the challenges it faces. The European Agenda on Migration 2015 focuses on enhancing the effectiveness of the return system by adopting a Return Handbook in order to standardize return practices in all Member States and develop stronger partnerships with third countries in the field of readmission.

In order to improve mechanisms for the return of third-country nationals with respect to their fundamental rights, on 11 May 2017 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a training seminar for future independent monitors to acquaint with the developed Standards for forced return monitoring. The event was attended by experts from the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of the Interior, the UNHCR, the Center for Legal Aid - "Voice in Bulgaria" and experts and independent monitors from the partner in the initiative CVS-Bulgaria.

The seminar was opened by Lt. Gen. Chavdar Chervenkov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, who stressed the importance and responsibility of working in the field of return of third-country nationals who no longer have permission for legal residence in Bulgaria as well as the importance of the conduct of independent monitoring of return operations to ensure respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of the returnees.

Dr. Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, briefly outlined EU's policy in the fields of voluntary and forced return. Dr. Mancheva stressed that the topic of return currently is a priority within the EU and is perceived as one of the key tools for counteracting irregular migration. However, statistics show that the rates of effective return operations within the EU remain low at in comparison to the number of return decisions issued.

The representatives of the Migration Directorate, Rosen Talov and Mariyan Dyankov outlined the experience of the Ministry of the Interior in implementing the compulsory administrative measures under the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. The two experts commented on the similarities and differences between the returns of illegal migrants with civilian flights and FRONTEX operated missions and shared some practical examples that would serve observers in their future work.

After the break, Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst at the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the developed Standards for forced return monitoring in Bulgaria, paying special attention to the basic definitions, the fundamental rights of the returnees and the aspects of monitoring in the different stages of the forced return operation. In the ensuing discussion, the participants gave their suggestions for fine-tuning of the Standards, and specific questions about the technology of forced return monitoring were discussed. In the closing part of the event, Ilina Angelova shared UNHCR's experience in monitoring MoI’s Special homes for temporary accommodation of foreigners.

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events-1972Tackling Energy Security and Governance Risks in Turkey in the Framework of a European Energy Unionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/tackling-energy-security-and-governance-risks-in-turkey-in-the-framework-of-a-european-energy-union/Although the EU-Turkey relations are going through difficult times, the two partners should rather focus on their common challenges and opportunities, such as the security of energy supply and the harmonization of energy legislation to enable efficient gas and power flows from East to West, supporting the establishment of the European Energy Union and the energy hub position of Turkey. These were some of the key conclusions of the participants in the international conference on Tackling Energy Security and Governance Risks in Turkey in the Framework of a European Energy Union, held on 26 April 2017, the closing event of a 15-month study of the main areas of EU-Turkey energy cooperation and the Turkish energy security profile.

Martin Vladimirov from the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) presented the key findings of the analytical report Towards a Stronger EU-Turkey Energy Dialogue Energy Security Perspectives & Risks. The report draws an overall picture of the state of the EU-Turkey energy dialogue, energy security risks and perspectives, and the role of the Energy Union in helping to overcome them. The study has incorporated the statements, opinions and recommendations provided by EU and Turkish policy-makers, energy experts, civil society organizations, and business representatives during a series of capacity-building workshops and study visits in Brussels and Ankara.

Commenting on the study, several speakers including Volkan Özdemir, the Chairman of the Turkish energy think tank, EPPEN Energy, said that the common denominator in the EU-Turkey relations is the diversification of supply sources. However, Turkey should not necessarily be seen as an oil and gas hub but as a transit corridor with only limited impact on EU markets.

The presentations of the following speakers focused on the different dimensions of the EU-Turkey energy dialogue. Most of them pointed out that the key impediment for the integration of the two energy markets has been the inability of the Turkish government to tackle key governance deficits related to the liberalization of the natural gas market and the unbundling of the monopoly gas importer and supplier, BOTAS. The delay in the opening up of the strategic Turkish gas sector has contributed to the stalling of more substantial regional market integration in Southeast Europe. One explanation, according to Dr. Bilge Yabancı, Visiting Fellow at the University of Graz, is that despite the fact that both sides acknowledge their mutual energy dependence, bigger political problems impede the development of a pragmatic dialogue focused on improving the efficiency of market transactions.

Dr. Nicolò Sartori, Senior Fellow, at the Energy Program in the Italian think tank, Istituto Affari Internazionali, stressed that for cooperation to work, the policy priorities should be shaped by pull and push mechanisms on both sides. The reality is that the EU and Turkey have remained aloof and not ready to facilitate even purely technical issues. Mustafa Güzel, Natural Gas Operations Unit Manager at the day-ahead power market, EPİAŞ, pointed out that on the Turkish side, governance deficits have threatened the financial stability of state-owned companies, where the Board is appointed not based on the professional capacity of its members but on political considerations. Speakers united behind the idea that Turkey has almost reached full completion of the power market but still faces a lot of implementation gaps in its legislation on natural gas, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

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events-1833Enhancing the Integration of Beneficiaries of International Protectionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/enhancing-the-integration-of-beneficiaries-of-international-protection/The Syrian crisis has created unprecedented inflow of refugees on the European continent putting the reception and integration systems of all member states under strain. South and Eastern European member states in particular appear less prepared to receive and integrate increased numbers of refugees on their territories.The Syrian crisis has created unprecedented inflow of refugees on the European continent putting the reception and integration systems of all member states under strain. South and Eastern European member states in particular appear less prepared to receive and integrate increased numbers of refugees on their territories. In this context it becomes highly relevant to propose and implement practical actions responding to existing gaps in migrant and refugee reception and integration across the EU member states.

On 30th and 31st of March 2017 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted the first Workshop along the international initiative implemented in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain for development and implementation of reception and integration trainings for beneficiaries of international protection. The workshop involved presentation and discussion of the trends in asylum related migration and an overview of the refugee reception and integration systems in the five participating countries. In addition, a discussion was held regarding the methodology for the forthcoming conduct of national mapping studies of the training needs of beneficiaries of international protection to provide basis for development of relevant training modules in the countries in need.

Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the event by presenting the framework of the initiative and stressed on its aims and activities. In the following sessions of the workshop the Italian and the Spanish research teams outlined the situation regarding asylum seekers and refugees in their respective countries. Anna Italia and Luigi Bellesi from CENSIS presented the good practice of the Italian System of protection for asylum seekers and refugees (SPRAR) and stressed on the roles that the different national, local and non-governmental stakeholders have in regards to addressing the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers. For example, at local level, Municipalities with the support of NGOs and volunteers ensure an integrated reception activities that go far beyond the mere supply of accommodation and meals, including many different activities towards socio-economic inclusion. Rosa Añó and Joana Lumbierres from CCAR gave a brief overview of the refugee reception in Catalonia and outlined the differences between the reception and integration systems in Spain. For example, language courses in Spain are considered as part of the reception phase along with basic needs coverage and social and psychological attention, while during the integration phase refugees obtain temporary work permits, have access to pre-training and training workshops and sign agreements with companies.

The second day of the Workshop was opened by Mila Mancheva who presented the structure of the research methodology for mapping the training needs of refugees and the existing mechanisms for training provision. The session was concluded by a discussion about the most relevant research approaches to be adopted in the five countries. In the following session Maria Samara from ELIAMEP and Nadina Christopoulou from MELISSA Network outlined the situation regarding asylum seekers and refugees in Greece and Katerina Stoyanova from CVS-Bulgaria presented and overview of the situation in Bulgaria. The researchers from both teams stressed that opposite to Spain and Italy, the systems in place in the two Balkan countries are more or less fragmented and that they lack clear and easy to follow rules and procedures. However, Ms Christopoulou reported that the Municipality of Athens is actively engaged in supporting the provision of services and activities to the refugee and asylum seeking population in the city.

 

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events-1958Human Trafficking and Smuggling – The New Challengeshttps://csd.bg/events/event/human-trafficking-and-smuggling-the-new-challenges/Like other EU countries, the Bulgarian economy and society greatly benefited from the revolution in information and communication technologies and the high speed Internet in the country. The rapid development of information technology and the widespread use of the Internet in everyday life, however, are inevitably associated with some significant security risks and increasing potential for certain crimes. Recent studies by Eurostat show that Bulgaria and Romania are among the Member States which are leading countries of origin of victims of trafficking in the European Union. During the period 2004 - 2015, the number of Bulgarian citizens who are trafficked into Western Europe ranges between 3,000 and 4,500 people. However, this figure does not reflect the actual number of victims because it applies only to registered cases of human trafficking.

In the light of these data, the Center for the Study of Democracy investigated the role of the Internet in the process of human trafficking and smuggling and presented the results at a national workshop on the 22 March 2017. The study was conducted within an international initiative, coordinated by the eCrime research group of electronic crimes at the Faculty of law of the University of Trento (Italy) in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy (Bulgaria) and the University of Teesside (United Kingdom). Participants in the event were experts from the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB); Prosecutor’s Office of Appeals (POA); the National Investigation Service (NIS), General Directorate "Border Police", General Directorate "National Police", Directorate "Internal Security" and Directorate "Migration" at the Ministry of Interior; Institute of Psychology at the Ministry of Interior; Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria; representatives of various NGOs and experts.

The seminar was opened by Lt. Gen. Chavdar Chervenkov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, who focused on the complexity of the human trafficking and smuggling processes. He also stressed that the data available are only the tip of the iceberg and in order to achieve effective results in combating this type of crime the good cooperation between all stakeholders is essential.

Ms Slavyanka Ivanova, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the methodology and the results of the study. The study conducted includes a web-based research on the use of the Internet in the processes of human trafficking and human smuggling, as well as in-depth interviews conducted with key informants (representatives of LEAs and NGOs, traffickers, smugglers, human trafficking victims and refugees/illegal migrants). Ms Ivanova emphasized the role of the Internet in the process of recruitment, transportation and exploitation of victims. According to most of the interviewed, Internet is mainly used in the phases of recruitment and advertisement/exploitation, to a greater extent in human trafficking than in smuggling. The interviews conducted with both smugglers and with persons involved in illegal crossing of the border however, testify to the use of the Internet in these processes. From the results it becomes clear that in the non-homogeneous processes of recruitment the smugglers are not always the active side. Moreover the persons who want to go in another country through the services of smugglers, search and find information about the country of destination mainly via the Internet and mobile applications.

In regard to the trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation, the Internet also plays an essential role. The most significant is the use of the Internet in the stages of recruiting victims for sexual exploitation: the identification of the victim, establishing contact, arranging a personal meeting and subsequent negotiation of the travel of the victim. Only at the stage of conducting a personal meeting the Internet does not play a key role.

Although some opinions expressed that in the process of recruiting victims for labor exploitation the Internet is not used because of low education and poor computer literacy of potential victims, the data obtained by directly involved persons testify that the Internet actually plays a very important role, mainly in the stages of dissemination of false job offers, establishing a contact and applying for a job (often through Skype, where the communication cannot be traced) and in the finalization of working conditions and departure.

Nadya Stoynova, Analyst at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, focused on the place and the importance of corruption in the process of trafficking of women in Bulgaria and outlined the main mechanisms and actors. Particular attention was placed on the three business models to which groups, dealing exclusively with trafficking of women for sexual exploitation, resorted most frequently; namely the model of private participation, the model with specialized involvement and the family model. Ms Stoynova also presented the types of corruption mechanisms and analyzed the effects that corruption has on the phenomenon of human trafficking.

In the ensuing discussion, Ms Kamelia Dimitrova, Secretary of NCCTHB shared that the theme of the role of the Internet is a key priority in the National Program for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and in the Commission's plan for this year. She determined this first study in Bulgaria on this topic as very important and encouraging for the Commission and drew attention to the need for a reversal of the role of the Internet and its transformation into a method for prevention of human trafficking.

After the break, Ms Slavyanka Ivanova presented the risks for involvement in trafficking online, shared by users of job offering websites and dating websites within the study. The survey data on the Internet establishes a potentially dangerous content only in terms of recruitment for the purpose of human trafficking as predominant are the examples in relation to sexual exploitation. In terms of advertisements of jobs abroad with potentially risky content are the ones in the sectors of personal care and agriculture. The data show that a very large share of people (about a quarter) responds to a similar advertisements of jobs abroad. Of those who came into contact, over 90% have asked only for additional information on the nature of the proposed job, a mere 4% have set off, and only 3% have departed and started working. The lack of clarity about the working conditions and the fact that the advertisements are anonymous are indicated as a major source of doubt that the job offering is potentially risky.

In the ensuing discussion Ms Denitsa Dolapchieva of DG "Border Police" shared that the recruitment of persons wishing to cross the border illegally is increasingly organized through various websites and Facebook, but this concerns mainly cases of passing from foreign territory to Bulgaria. More rarely, there are cases of accommodation of immigrants on our territory followed by a transfer to Western Europe. Ms Dolapchieva emphasized the need to collect data about the websites used in order to provide effective countermeasures.

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Expert at the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, commented that information about the activities of smugglers in social networks takes place primarily in closed groups and channels and there is no way to obtain and analyze this data. Mr Bezlov pointed out the possibility of extracting information about the mode of transport by checking the networks and the websites which persons captured on our territory visited via their mobile phones.

In the course of the discussion emerged another possible strategy to solve this problem, which involves specialized training of people and technical resources that can reach hidden Internet content. Dr. Atanas Rusev, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, drew attention to the fact that the majority of Internet content is offered by large companies, which can be attracted to cooperate with the efforts of combating human trafficking and smuggling. In response, Nadya Kozhuharova of Animus Association Foundation shared a negative experience of negotiating with job offering websites for placing attractive banners against trafficking. Ms Kozhuharova stressed that the website jobs.bg refused to cooperate, arguing that they work with loyal customers and do not have cases of false advertisements.

Ms Galya Gugusheva, prosecutor at the Prosecutor's Office of Appeals, pointed as a major problem in proceedings related to human trafficking and smuggling the formality of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), explaining that the CPC does not allow the use of additional evidence, including those collected through the new technologies. In her opinion a change in this part of the CPC is compulsory, as it would avoid the repeating interrogations during the proceedings which will be mostly for the benefit of the victims.

Ms Desislava Ivanova, an expert at the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, also stressed the need for changes in CPC, but along with this she highlighted the necessity for parallel work towards raising the awareness of potential victims since there is a trend of reduced sensitivity and reflex for seeking additional information in order to eliminate suspicions about the veracity of the advertisements.

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events-1830Radicalisation and extremism risks in Bulgaria: towards more effective diagnostic and assessment toolshttps://csd.bg/events/event/radicalisation-and-extremism-risks-in-bulgaria-towards-more-effective-diagnostic-and-assessment-too/Over the last decade radicalisation and extremism are of growing concern for European societies. New risks of Islamist and far-right radicalisation have impelled the introduction of policies, the effects of which are only now being evaluated. As radicalisation that risks escalating into violence is more amenable to prevention than repression, having the capacity to detect early warning signs and trace the spread of extremist activity over time is critical. Over the last decade radicalisation and extremism are of growing concern for European societies. New risks of Islamist and far-right radicalisation have impelled the introduction of policies, the effects of which are only now being evaluated. As radicalisation that risks escalating into violence is more amenable to prevention than repression, having the capacity to detect early warning signs and trace the spread of extremist activity over time is critical.

In Bulgaria, radicalisation as a potential threat to society has only recently been raised in public debates and entered the political agenda. Despite the formulation of a new strategic approach with focus on prevention, there is insufficient understanding of the contributing factors to radicalisation and the most suitable measures to diagnose and address risks. To bridge these gaps, the Center for the Study of Democracy analyzed the threats associated with different manifestations of radicalisation in Bulgaria (including Islamist, far right and far left radicalisation and football hooliganism) and developed a set of methodologies for monitoring radicalisation risks and trends in extremism. These were discussed on 28 February 2017 at the Academy of the Ministry of the Interior, during a round table held by CSD with experts from the Ministry of the Interior, the General Directorate National Police, the State Agency for National Security, the General Directorate Combatting Oranised Crime, the Institute for Psychology and others.

Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program at the Center stressed that a sound methodology for situational assessment of extremist trends based on criminal statistics, surveys, intelligence and open source data is crucial to obtain an accurate picture of extremist acts and actors and the evolvement of threats over time. Such an assessment is an invaluable aid for strategic and operational planning and the informed formulation of counter-measures. Rositsa further highlighted that the share of unreported extremist crimes in Bulgaria is high, which accompanied with the often incorrect registration and classification of some crimes with discriminatory motive in the statistics impedes mapping the actual extent of the problem. At the same time, victimisation surveys and other data sources can compensate for missing or unreliable data.

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Еxpert at the Security Program discussed the factors behind the emergence, growth and recent trends in football hooliganism in the country. He focused on the importance of the tendency for political instrumentalisation and radicalisation of football fan clubs, which became especially prominent during the public protests of 2013-2014.

Dr. Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program of CSD, elaborated on the risks of Islamist radicalisation in Bulgaria, noting that while there are some isolated cases of worrisome or potentially criminal behavior, Bulgarian Muslim communities are on the whole resilient to radicalisation. She differentiated between two sets of phenomena and associated factors: the process of adoption of Salafi interpretation of Islam among some Bulgarian speaking Muslims and some Roma communities, and the expression of support for terrorist organisations among an isolated group of individuals.

Rositsa Dzhekova presented a framework for risk indicators developed to raise awareness and understanding of signs of radicalisation among first line practitioners. It provides a foundation for key institutions to develop tailored early warning mechanisms for the purposes of prevention.

During the discussion, participants highlighted the establishment of contacts with mosques in Western Europe as a potential risk factor for radicalisation of some local Muslim communities. Further issues discussed were recent developments in football hooliganism and their propensity to violence.

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events-1829EU Funds and the Path to Good Governance in Bulgaria and Romania: Lessons Learnthttps://csd.bg/events/event/eu-funds-and-the-path-to-good-governance-in-bulgaria-and-romania-lessons-learnt/Ten years after accession to the EU, the challenge of corruption continues to define both Bulgaria`s and Romania`s status within the Union. The EU has imposed a series of conditions on the two countries in the area of anticorruption while allocating considerable financial support for modernization for nearly two decades. The question remains to what degree have EU funds specifically targeted greater anticorruption progress and what has been their tangible impact. Ten years after accession to the EU, the challenge of corruption continues to define both Bulgaria`s and Romania`s status within the Union. The systematic effects of corruption remain the number one problem in both counties. It has also called into question the EU’s efficiency at delivering effective governance change through enlargement. The EU has imposed a series of conditions on the two countries in the area of anticorruption while allocating considerable financial support for modernization for nearly two decades. The question remains to what degree have EU funds specifically targeted greater anticorruption progress and what has been their tangible impact.

Have EU funds improved governance? This was among the core questions discussed during the Round Table organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 24 February 2017. The event included a keynote by Ms. Malina Krumova, Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds, and presentations of country case studies from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Ukraine, researched as part of ANTICORRP – the biggest corruption-related research effort in social sciences and humanities in the history of the EU framework programme for research. Bulgaria`s former Vice President, Ms. Margarita Popova, members of the Diplomatic Corps, media, academics and representatives of national and international organisations were among the Round Table`s participants.

An overview of the EU financial support for anticorruption-related actions since 1998 reveals that, irrespective of the actual amount of the overall EU financial support throughout the years, Bulgaria has devoted attention and resources to anti-corruption commitments only when approaching a major EU conditionality milestone. The allocation of anti-corruption-related support grew on three occasions – at the start of negotiations in 1999, just before signing of the Accession Treaty in 2005, and in early 2010, the year in which the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism`s (CVM) safeguard clauses were set to expire. However, Bulgaria seems to have allocated very limited resources for anti-corruption overall in contrast to its allegedly high significance in the country’s accession and membership efforts. Yet, EU funds have provided a positive example and have supported the building up of administrative capacity in public procurement, as in both countries corruption risks in public procurement involving EU funds have been assessed as lower than those involving only national funds.









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events-1831Monitoring radicalisation risks in Central and Southeast Europe: Shaping diagnostic tools for EU policymakershttps://csd.bg/events/event/monitoring-radicalisation-risks-in-central-and-southeast-europe-shaping-diagnostic-tools-for-eu-pol/The rise of Islamist and right-wing radicalisation processes among disaffected young people is pushing some to acts of terrorism and is a growing concern. Many EU Member States have been proactive in countering this phenomenon and have acquired substantial experience in developing prevention and de-radicalisation policies and programmes. However, many European national authorities have followed a ‘trial-and-error’ approach, adopting untried and untested measures in the face of an immediate threat and in response to public concerns.The rise of Islamist and right-wing radicalisation processes among disaffected young people is pushing some to acts of terrorism and is a growing concern. Many EU Member States have been proactive in countering this phenomenon and have acquired substantial experience in developing prevention and de-radicalisation policies and programmes. However, many European national authorities have followed a ‘trial-and-error’ approach, adopting untried and untested measures in the face of an immediate threat and in response to public concerns.

A variety of diagnostic tools and mechanisms, designed to identify potentially dangerous, radicalising individuals and groups, have already been deployed in a number of EU Member States. For countries in Central and Southeast Europe, in particular, radicalisation presents a new policy priority. Reliable diagnostic tools, designed to identify individuals and groups who might pose a threat, or are vulnerable to radicalisation, are needed, along with an accurate assessment of trends in extremist and terrorist activity and actors, not least in order to guide effective policy action, both in those countries and across Europe more generally.

What is the extent of the radicalisation risks in Central and Southeast Europe? What knowledge and methodology gaps exist in monitoring the radicalisation phenomenon in those regions? How can the EU better support Member States in identifying, monitoring and countering the Islamist and right-wing radicalisation in Europe, and how can the research community and EU policymakers work better together to address this threat? These were the main questions discussed during an expert round table on 23 February 2017, organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy in cooperation with the European Policy Centre and held in Brussels.

Andrea Frontini, Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre (EPC), delivered welcome remarks and provided some background on the rise of both right-wing and Islamist radicalisation across Europe, enumerating some of its root causes and the challenges these posed for European governments and societies, and for the European Union (EU) as such.

Günther Sablatting, Adviser, Office of the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, highlighted that while the number of foreign fighters (FFs) leaving Europe to join ISIS/Daesh in the Middle East had been decreasing in the past few months, the issue of returnees was expected to become more prominent in the near future, including when it came to FFs’ accompanying family members such as women and children. He also hinted at the migration-radicalisation nexus as an emerging policy topic, but also one marked by a high degree of (toxic) politicisation. He also presented EU’s multi-dimensional approach to radicalisation as one combining repressive, preventive and domestic and external engagement measures, and insisted in particular on information and data-sharing among EU Member States as a crucial pillar of that approach. The need to tackle current and future returnees, the improvement of conditions in prisons to prevent their role as radicalisation ‘hotbeds’, and the importance of engaging with Islamic moderate voices, were also pointed out.

Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator, Security Program, Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), provided a first overview of the main findings of the two Reports produced by CSD and other partners on, respectively, “Monitoring Radicalisation: A Framework for Risk Indicators” and “Situational Assessment of Extremist Trends”, tackling in particular the theme of working methods in monitoring radicalisation risks in Central and Southeast Europe. She highlighted the need for tailored solutions for that region, since radicalisation-related lessons learnt and best practice from Western Europe did not always seem to apply there. She pointed to home-grown radicalisation as a worrying trend in Central and Southeast Europe, and presented a ‘monitoring toolkit model’ based on situational assessment of local extremist trends and a tested methodology being applied to Bulgaria, Greece and the Czech Republic, among others. She concluded by presenting a number of main conclusions and recommendations, including on the need for a unified institutional mechanism to provide effective public policies against radicalisation.

Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst, Sociological Program, Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), complemented the first report presentation by focussing on risk indicators of radicalisation trends in those regions. She first presented a series of behavioural and cognitive indicator categories, and then zoomed on national case studies in the countries concerned, insisting in particular on radicalisation trends in a local Roma community in Bulgaria. She noted that factors such as a charismatic (radicalising) leader, the community’s high mobility, societal circumstances, and contacts with radical mosques in Western Europe, all played a role in triggering the phenomenon. Looking at recommendations for the policymakers concerned by anti/counter-radicalisation measures, she highlighted, among others, the need to develop appropriate institutional structures, provide effective mechanisms for practitioners, and build-up targeted capacities, knowledge and expertise.

Alexander Ritzmann, Executive Director, European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) and Co-Chairman, Communication and Narratives Working Group, Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), first congratulated the reports’ authors for the work carried, noting that often times research was unable to take the essence of complexity and provide workable advice for policymakers. He then reflected on the challenges facing the ‘prevention side’ of radicalisation, marked by a small but growing expert community. He highlighted a set of priority areas to increase responsiveness by policymakers at all levels, namely focussing on Islamist radicalisation given its prominent role in this context, strengthening resilience, promoting positive role models and focusing on selected factors such as ideology, recruiters and hotbeds. He also stressed the circumstance-specific patterns of radicalisation, encompassing motives as diverse as petty crime pedigrees, discrimination, mental illness but also intellectual sophistication and foreign policy grievances. He then pointed to the ‘ideology factor’ as one deserving further investigation, and argued that empowerment of credible voices and an effective counter-narrative provided key elements of a working prevention strategy at all levels.

Alexandra Antoniadis, Head of Sector, Fight against Terrorism and Prevention of Radicalisation, Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), European Commission, first stressed that prevention was key, along with tackling fundamental issues like returnees and the concrete implementation of counter-terrorism/radicalisation legislation at national and EU level. She then highlighted the added value of the EU in this policy field as two-fold: on the one hand, as an ‘information multiplier’, on the other as one having a ‘convening power’, as witnessed by the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) and the ‘EU Internet Forum’, among others. She then focussed on the EU’s role in enhancing national capacities, notably via funding, support to training and sharing of best practice among EU Member States, empowerment of civil society organisations (CSOs), and wider networking with policymakers and operators at various levels. Among the emerging and foreseeable challenges for the future, she listed the ones of transferability, the need for a strategic framework/vision for Member States, the importance of a truly multi-agency model for public authorities, information-sharing among all the actors concerned, the applicability of radicalisation risk indicators, and the implementation of concrete actions on the ground.

During the following debate with the expert audience, participants discussed counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation cooperation with third countries, how to identify and empower alternative messages and messengers, lessons learnt from UK’s PREVENT programme, how to engage with teachers and schools across Europe, the role of Salafi mosques and potential radicalisation risks in Roma communities in Bulgaria, the rise of right-wing extremism in Greece, radicalisation of individuals having a Western Balkans background in Austria, and the state of play of right-wing and Islamist radicalisation in the Czech Republic, among other topics.




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events-1970Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in the Energy Sectorhttps://csd.bg/events/event/ensuring-transparency-and-accountability-in-the-energy-sector/Good governance in the energy sector is crucial for the success of the EU-Turkey energy dialogue because the collaboration between states is often difficult to achieve amid divergent energy policy paths. This was one of the main conclusions from the third workshop of the EU-TR Dialogue for Energy in the Black Sea Region project, which was organized in Ankara on January 23, 2017 by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), the Sofia-based Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), the Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME) and the Turkish Oil and Gas Association (PETFORM). Leading Turkish and EU energy experts, CSOs, policy makers and business representatives joined the workshop to discuss different policy options for overcoming entrenched governance deficits impeding the Turkish integration in the EU internal energy market and the overcoming of energy security risks.

The workshop consisted of two sessions focusing on the Integration of Turkey with the Energy Union Governance Framework and Developing Energy Governance in Turkey. Among the speakers were leading Turkish policy-makers, business leaders and representatives of the civil society organizations to debate and contribute to promoting the energy security and good governance dialogue between the EU and Turkey. The European Commission was represented by Hasan Özkoc, Energy Sector Manager, EU Delegation to Turkey, while Barış Sanlı, who is an adviser to the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, presented the Turkish position in the talks.

The speakers in the first session focused on the common energy challenges facing Turkey and the EU including their excessive dependence on energy imports and the struggle to design an efficient regulatory framework to enable energy flows from the East to West on competitive basis. Despite the number of common policy areas being pursued, what the EU-Turkey energy dialogue lacks is the political will to integrate better their energy markets through a transparent and open policy process. Due to the fear of a major gas supply cut in Eastern Europe, provoked by a Russian-Ukrainian dispute, the European Commission has identified Turkey as an “essential strategic partner” for energy security. Turkey declared its intention to take this position, meaning to act as an energy hub while simultaneously covering its own growing demand. However, it is still uncertain if and to what extend Turkey can live up to this self-established claim.

More specifically on governance issues, Mr. Sanli pointed out that the Turkish government had been struggling to fulfill the energy acquis in the natural gas sector, which is in stark contrast to the already well-advanced electricity sector reform and integration within European market. Lack of data and asymmetric information in the energy sector between different stakeholders were identified as two important impairing factors in improving Turkey’s energy governance. The speakers in the second panel also agreed that nepotism and favouritism are big impediments to driving forward key reform bills. This often results in political appointments of non-qualified people to key positions in government institutions that would than replace expertise with personal connections. In addition, the decision-making of the energy regulator, EMRA, remains non-transparent producing inconsistent regulations that may favor certain private interests instead of the national one.

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events-1827Members of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Center for Excellence visit the Center for the Study of Democracy https://csd.bg/events/event/members-of-the-radicalisation-awareness-network-ran-center-for-excellence-visit-the-center-for-the/Radicalisation is a complex phenomenon that requires holistic policy approaches to prevention, involving a multitude of state and non-state actors. Тhe key role of frontline practitioners in prevention has been increasingly recognized at national and EU levels. The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) brings together practitioners from around Europe who work daily with people who have already been radicalised, or who are vulnerable to radicalisation. Radicalisation is a complex phenomenon that requires holistic policy approaches to prevention, involving a multitude of state and non-state actors. Тhe key role of frontline practitioners in prevention has been increasingly recognized at national and EU levels. The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) brings together practitioners from around Europe who work daily with people who have already been radicalised, or who are vulnerable to radicalisation.

On 17 January 2017, the Center for the Study of Democracy, together with the “Analysis and Policy” Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior, hosted a RAN study visit in Bulgaria, dedicated to the challenges in prevention of radicalisation. The study visit gathered members of the RAN Center for Excellence, representatives from Eastern European NGOs and practitioners from the police, health, social and education sectors, involved in countering radicalisation, as well as representatives of key Bulgarian institutional stakeholders such as the State Agency for National Security, the Ministry of the Interior and the penitentiary administration.

The participants were familiarised with the counter-radicalisation strategic approach and measures adopted by the Bulgarian government in response to emerging risks. Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program and Mila Mancheva, Senior Fellow of the Sociological Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the findings from a study on radicalisation risks in Bulgaria, as well as ongoing efforts to develop a risk assessment toolkit for practitioners.Other topics discussed during the visit included prevention of radicalisation among youth, the role of the internet, challenges to addressing radicalisation risks faced by prison staff and other frontline practitioners from the educational, health and social services sector.

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events-1820New Measures to Counter Russian Influence Adopt the Recommendations of the Kremlin Playbook Reporthttps://csd.bg/events/event/new-measures-to-counter-russian-influence-adopt-the-recommendations-of-the-kremlin-playbook-report/Ten bipartisan US Senators tabled comprehensive Russia sanctions legislation, the Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which aims to introduce comprehensive sanctions on Russia for their cyber intrusions, aggression and destabilizing activities in the US and in Europe. The proposed legislation has recognized some of the key findings and policy recommendations from the recent report by CSD and CSIS The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe including that Russia had tried to exert influence in Europe by sowing “distrust in democratic institutions” and “engaging in well-documented corruption practices” to increase Russian influence in European countries.Ten bipartisan US Senators tabled comprehensive Russia sanctions legislation, the Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017, which aims to introduce comprehensive sanctions on Russia for their cyber intrusions, aggression and destabilizing activities in the US and in Europe. The proposed legislation has recognized some of the key findings and policy recommendations from the recent report by CSD and CSIS The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europeincluding that Russia had tried to exert influence in Europe by sowing “distrust in democratic institutions” and “engaging in well-documented corruption practices” to increase Russian influence in European countries.

The proposed bill mandates the creation of a special “high level task force” within the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network that would not only trace and prosecute illicit financial flows linked to the Russian Federation if such flows interact with the United States financial system, but would also work with European governments via the US diplomatic missions to investigate illicit Russian financial flows. Consistent with the Report’s recommendations, the legislation also mandates support for programs aiming to combat corruption including by strengthening the civil society and the national anti-corruption and regulatory bodies, and to improve the democratic governance, transparency, accountability and media freedom.

Press Release from the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: 10 Bipartisan Senators Introduce Comprehensive Russia Sanctions Legislation


Public event The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Eastern and Central Europe, Washington D.C., 13 October 2016
Presentation of the report “The Kremlin Playbook” at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, 26 January 2017, Berlin

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events-1818Tackling Undeclared Work and Hidden Economy in Southeast Europe: Improving Governance and Prosperityhttps://csd.bg/events/event/tackling-undeclared-work-and-hidden-economy-in-southeast-europe-improving-governance-and-prosperity/The existence of undeclared work, hidden economy and corruption have been identified by the European Commission and other international and local agencies as a major barrier to enabling embedded economic prosperity in SEE. The sustained high-levels of the hidden economy in SEE, low trust in public institutions and, in some cases, ambiguous national identity, has resulted in changes in tax morale and lower revenues for governments. These were the key conclusions from the policy round table held by the SELDI initiative, Sheffield University Management School, UK, and the Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies (CLDS), Serbia.The existence of undeclared work, hidden economy and corruption have been identified by the European Commission and other international and local agencies as a major barrier to enabling embedded economic prosperity in SEE. In a recent study, the SELDI initiative and University of Sheffield Management School uncovered that hidden economy in SEE remains wide-spread; it perpetuates informality, which is linked to corruption, and denotes a substantial gap between formal and informal institutions. This gap is due both to underdeveloped formal market institutions, and also to the lack of coherent enforcement of rules, often related to corruption. The sustained high-levels of the hidden economy in SEE, low trust in public institutions and, in some cases, ambiguous national identity, has resulted in changes in tax morale and lower revenues for governments. These were the key conclusions from the policy round table held by the SELDI initiative, Sheffield University Management School, UK, and the Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies (CLDS), Serbia on 13 December 2016 in Belgrade.

Ruslan Stefanov, SELDI Coordinator and Marie Curie Research Fellow at University of Sheffield elaborated on the relation between corruption, economic growth and hidden economy. He noted that unreported incomes can be used for illegal activities. According to the SELDI hidden economy survey results, 81% of the workers in Kosovo, 75% in Turkey and 51% in Serbia hide partially or fully the actual value of their labour contracts. At the same time, mirror statistics of imports and exports show large discrepancies in EU28 and SEE, including both under and over reporting the value of the traded goods, as well as misreporting of their origin. Mr. Stefanov recommended that in parallel to the law enforcement, the policies identify key risk zones and tax gap areas (e.g. cross-border trade, labour, sales), and focus the efforts there. Businesses and citizens should be widely consulted on these areas, so that the society at large feels engaged in the reforms and thus raise its trust in the institutions. Marko Paunović, Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies (CLDS), Serbia stressed that while the state is captured, public services will not be of good quality, and citizens will not pay taxes willingly.

Prof. Colin Williams, Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield underlined the importance of the citizens’ perceptions of the quality of public services received for their taxes. He stressed that state failure leads to low tax morale, and the solution should be sought in promoting good governance and helping institutions be more effective. He also argued that punitive measures have short-term effect and can create negative tax morale in the long term. For that reason positive enforcement, tax fairness and information campaigns should be applied to achieve structural reform. According to him, increasing detection measures has larger effect than increasing the level of sanctions. Prof. Williams concluded that the key to success is changing the work of the formal institutions towards a service-oriented approach.

Dr. Peter Rodgers, Lecturer in Strategy and International Business, Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield further explained the benefits from the transition from compliance to a culture of commitment. He recommended the use of information campaigns targeting young people, changing norms, values and believes, as well as the approach of demonstrating that the vast majority of the population is compliant, highlighting the public services that result from tax earnings. Dr. Rodgers provided examples of how businesses and citizens can work together to reduce the hidden economy, such as business incubators that promote formal registration. He also recommended that CSOs, including SELDI, pressure formal institutions to change, improve tax fairness, as well as promote early intervention (e.g. tax education programmes.

SELDI members and CSOs representatives also shared their experience and research on the topic. Dragana Ilić, Legal Advisor for Business Relations, National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) shared her experience in drafting the Serbian National Program for Combating the Shadow Economy, underlining the benefits from including over 100 participants in the process - businesses, taxpayers, employers. Ana Mickovska-Raleva, Policy Analyst, Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) presented the results from two population surveys, noting that 37.3% of employees in Macedonia are fully or partially undeclared. Brunilda Kosta, Researcher at the Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER) shared that smaller businesses are often excluded from the policy dialogue, state capture is considered a serious issue, and the new bankruptcy law is yet to be adopted. She recommended application of a comprehensive social policy and more extensive use of technologies, including electronic payments. Josip Franic, Researcher at the Institute of Public Finance, Croatia described the micro- and macro-level predictors significant for hidden economy participation such as gender, age, size of the company, tax morale, occupation, employment rate, at-risk-of-poverty rate, government effectiveness, rule of law, perceived judicial independence, inequality of income distribution, corruption, and the trust in government. He also presented the key findings of a GREY project survey in Croatia, Bulgaria and Macedonia. According to the results, the employer suggested the under-declaration in 61.3% of the cases on average for the three countries, in 24.2% of the cases it was a joint idea, and 8.7% it was at the suggestion of the employee.

All participants agreed that working in the hidden economy in SEE is often socially embedded, culturally and educationally predetermined, and not simply a matter of a rational choice maximising personal benefit. Hence, an effective anti-hidden economy policy should not be purely economic or fiscal, but a comprehensive social policy.













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events-1816Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/understanding-russian-influence-in-central-and-eastern-europe/CSD presented the Kremlin Playbook report at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels together with researchers from leading European think-tanks examining the malign Russian influence in Europe. CSD speakers debated how Russia has leveraged its economic presence to cultivate an opaque web of economic and political patronage across the region that the Kremlin uses to influence decision-making. CSD presented the Kremlin Playbook report at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels together with researchers from leading European think-tanks examining the malign Russian influence in Europe. During the seminar, held on December 1, 2016, titled Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the Director of the Economic Program at CSD, Ruslan Stefanov, and Martin Vladimirov, an energy analyst at the Economic Program discussed the findings of the report on the extent of the Russian economic footprint in CEE and the amplifiers, which increase the impact of this presence. CSD speakers debated how Russia has leveraged its economic presence to cultivate an opaque web of economic and political patronage across the region that the Kremlin uses to influence decision-making.

Veronika Víchová, Analyst of the Kremlin Watch Programme of European Values Think-Tank, which publishes a weekly brief on the main dimensions of the Russian disinformation campaign and other soft levers over countries in Central and Eastern Europe, confirmed that most of the conclusions in the Kremlin Playbook applied to the Czech Republic. She added that apart from the economic levers, Russia had strengthened its presence through a number of pro-Russian media outlets and NGOs that had been spreading fake news undermining the credibility of the EU vis-à-vis the Czech Republic.

Vít Novotný, who is a Senior Research Officer at the Martens Centre also spoke about the important link between Russia’s economic footprint and the political orientation of the countries in the region. He and his colleague Roland Freudenstein, the Policy Director of the Martens Centre, shed light on organisations operating in Europe that are funded by the Russian government, whether officially or unofficially. These include government-organised non-governmental organisations (GONGOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and think tanks. Their goal, according to Mr. Novotny is to shift European public opinion towards a positive view of Russian politics and policies, and towards respect for its great power ambitions. In light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine, Mr. Freudenstein added, the overt or covert support for these organisations must become a matter of concern to the EU.



Photo Gallery

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events-1810The Anti-Corruption Agenda for Southeast Europe after the 2016 Enlargement Package: How to Break the State Capture Deadlock and Make Enlargement Deliver Again?https://csd.bg/events/event/the-anti-corruption-agenda-for-southeast-europe-after-the-2016-enlargement-package-how-to-break-the/In its 2015 and 2016 Enlargement Packages, the European Commission has announced that there will not be further enlargement by the end of the current Commission’s term - October 2019. While, the EU and key member-states have expressed their continuing commitment to the enlargement process in the Western Balkans, citizens and stakeholders have seen the enlargement “freeze” as a drag on motivation and drive for further reforms. In its 2015 and 2016 Enlargement Packages, the European Commission has announced that there will not be further enlargement by the end of the current Commission’s term - October 2019. While, the EU and key member-states have expressed their continuing commitment to the enlargement process in the Western Balkans, citizens and stakeholders have seen the enlargement “freeze” as a drag on motivation and drive for further reforms. The Great Recession, the annexation of Crimea and the geopolitical rift between the EU and Russia, the migration crisis, and the attempted military coup in Turkey, and the Brexit vote have all pushed back the prospect of Enlargement. This chain of negative events has exacerbated an already complicated task for local civil society and reformers in cooperation with the EC to enhance anticorruption efforts, confront state capture, and open prosperity prospects for the region.

The round table, hosted by Ms Monica Macovei and the SELDI initiative on 30 November 2016 in the European Parliament, charted the needed next steps in finding effective tools to tackle these challenges. In her opening remarks, Monica Macovei, Member of the European Parliament, European Conservatives and Reformists Group underlined that pubic support is the key of success, especially in terms of holding politicians accountable in times of elections. According to her, the citizens should share the responsibility, report cases of corruption, and not overly rely on the institutions to solve all problems. Legislation should be effectively enforced and the policies should apply corruption risk assessment, thus focusing on the most critical areas. Ms Macovei highlighted the positive impacts of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), but at the same time she noted that in recent years there is a concerning trend of young judges and prosecutors seeking fast enrichment, resulting in increased amounts of the bribes. She concluded by pointing out that the countries need the right people in the right places, who can apply consistent and efficient reforms.

All countries in the region have systemic problem with corruption, and even high levels of prosecution and investigation cannot tackle it in the next 5-10 years, according to Ruslan Stefanov, SELDI Coordinator, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria. Mr. Stefanov presented the key findings from the Shadow Power, the SELDI Regional Anticorruption Report 2016. Anticorruption progress has slowed down in the past two years, with citizens feeling trapped in what they increasingly see as their captured states by powerful political – economic networks. On average a quarter of the citizens in the region have been forced to engage in corruption, exposing a systemic governance problem in SEE. This has slowed growth, sustained poverty and fueled inequality. Between a third and four-fifths of the citizens in the region have chosen to stay in the hidden economy damaging long-term growth prospects. People in the region have continued to embrace migration as their only hope for better life, abandoning the local political systems as incapable of delivering this for them. Enlargement remains largely SEE’s only hope for sustained future prosperity. But slow anticorruption progress has translated into disillusionment both inside the countries and outside – in EU member states. The continued problems with governance all across new member states and in particular in Bulgaria and Romania has further fueled negative sentiments towards further enlargement. The result has been the freeze in enlargement in the current EC term and demands for stricter rules of engagement and quicker deliver mechanisms. Another response from the EU has been the strengthening of the focus on justice and home affairs issues after 2012. But the events in the FYR of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina of the past two years have demonstrated there is a need for more changes and a new approach for stronger political engagement. As noted in the 2016 Enlargement Package, the policies should focus on the link between the rule of law and economic development. Without progress on the economic side, there cannot be progress in anti-corruption and vice versa.

SELDI members from six countries shared the challenges that they face. All of them stressed on the key role of the CSOs in keeping political elite accountable. Dragan Koprivica, Director of the Center for Democratic Transition, Montenegro noted that despite the substantial administrative reforms aiming to stop misuse of public funds, people still do not feel trust in the institutions. The Agency of Prevention of Corruption, established in January 2016, is yet to show results. Sofija Mandić, Legal Researcher, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy said that they are trying to be “critical friends” with the government. According to her, politicians often use as an excuse for the lack of action on certain issue, the statement that the EU has not specifically requested it. She appealed for all documents related to EU accession to be open to the CSOs and the public, since in Serbia these documents are often kept secret. Zef Preci, Executive Director of the Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER) underlined that in Albania administration is performing poorly, there are missing consensus between political parties, justice systems and institution establishment are inconsistent. Even the society has become apathetic and key human values are missing. Due to the fragmentation and dependence on foreign funds, the CSOs are losing reputation. Some CSOs are even used by the political elite for counteracting critics. In this context, the focus of the policies should be placed on gaining back the trust of the citizens, countering state capture, and corruption in the area of public procurement. Sašo Klekovski, Senior Adviser, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation highlighted the concerning trend of increased acceptability of corruption among young people. He also stressed the need of pressure from the bottom and focusing on asset recovery. Leila Bičakčić, Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, Bosnia and Herzegovina described the system of clientelism and nepotism existing in BiH for more than 20 years. She confirmed the conclusion that economic reforms and a strengthening of the rule of law produce mutually reinforcing benefits, and called for reforms in the in the areas of fundamental rights, democratic institutions and public administration. Ms Bičakčić also noted that BiH is yet to see convictions for corruption, and the messages of the civil society are not heard. Evren Aydogan, Project Manager, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) elaborated on the cultural implications from the corruption phenomenon. He underlined that Europe and Turkey should be focusing on the current crisis of liberal democracy, and no progress can be achieved by only talking about technical measures. He concluded by appealing to the audience not to be writing Turkey out of Europe.

Sabine Zwaenepoel, Coordinator of the Centre of Expertise on Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights, DG NEAR, European Commission closed the event by summarizing the conclusions from the 2016 Enlargement Package. She expressed her disappointment at the limited results achieved by the countries after the huge amount of funding provided by EC. According to her, countries should be able to investigate and prosecute corruption. Most countries have good legislation in political party financing, whistleblowing, conflicts of interest, special prosecution offices, but results are low. For that reason the EC is working to develop a more strategic approach to countering state capture and money laundering, supporting policy and administrative reforms, ensuring appropriate control over the work of the agencies and transparent elections, improving managerial accountability and public procurement systems. EC is using the VISA liberalization process and accession negotiations as tools for reforms and strengthening of institutions and legislation. She concluded by noting that the EC is looking forward to intensifying its collaboration with the civil society.

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events-1812The Russian Economic Footprint in Central and Eastern Europe: Addressing Strategic Vulnerabilities in Hybrid Warfare https://csd.bg/events/event/the-russian-economic-footprint-in-central-and-eastern-europe-addressing-strategic-vulnerabilities/In the last decade, Russia has used a range of tools to amplify its economic footprint in Central and Eastern Europe and achieve its political goals. These were some of the issues discussed at an international conference in Sofia, co-sponsored by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division.In the last decade, Russia has used a range of tools to amplify its economic footprint in Central and Eastern Europe and achieve its political goals. These were some of the issues discussed at an international conference in Sofia, co-sponsored by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of CSD, emphasized in the opening remarks of the international conference, held on 28 November 2016, that the study estimates the Russian economic footprint in five countries including Serbia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia and Bulgaria and looks at its impact from different perspectives, most importantly through the analysis of governance deficits. Dr. Shentov added that Russia has systematically taken advantage of the governance vulnerabilities to increase their political leverage over governments in the region. Hence, countering the malign Russian influence depends on their ability to improve the functioning and independence of regulatory bodies, and to strengthen anti-corruption policy.

According to Ilian Vassilev, former Ambassador of Bulgaria to Russia, the malign Russian influence is no longer only a problem for Eastern Europe, but has also been rather visible in Western Europe because Russia has learnt how to play according to Western playbook and manipulate the weakness of democratic systems to its advantage. He also emphasized that Russian influence had been so debilitating because Russia had not only exported energy but also its model of governance based on privilege politics, rather than market rules.

The 2009 warning by CEE leaders to the Obama administration that Russia had “used overt and covert means to economic warfare, ranging from energy blockages and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe”, had rung hollow until the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The deep misunderstanding of Russia’s motives by Western leaders gave, according to Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at CSD, the greenlight to Russia to step up its efforts to undermine democratic liberal systems in CEE and to challenge international law. He noted that the Kremlin Playbook has tried to establish a link between the deterioration of governance standards and the expansion of the Russian economic footprint in the last 10 years. Mr. Stefanov explained that the Russian economic footprint has been estimated to hover between 10% in Slovakia and Hungary and 25% in Bulgaria between 2005 and 2014. He also provided a brief overview of the main tools Russia has been using to amplify the effect of the large economic footprint on national policy-making since 2007/2008, including by exploiting governance deficits in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to prevent policy consistency in key economic sectors such as energy, banking, telecommunications and large projects, which are becoming extremely difficult to stop. One example is the reduction of the gas price on Hungary’s long-term gas supply contract with Gazprom in exchange for the conclusion of the Paks-2 nuclear power plant deal. The cutting of prices assured that PM Orban would be reelected in 2014. Russia has also leveraged structural economic vulnerabilities and dependencies and has engaged old-time security services and financial networks through opaque ownership structures concealing economic and political activities.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have to lead the way in investigating further the topic of Russian influence, as civil servants and government officials face much greater difficulties in addressing sensitive topics, according to Robert Pszczel, Director of the NATO Information Office in Moscow. He claimed that while attempting to exercise influence over another country is not unusual, the question is how a government does it and whether it is sticking to international rules. Russia had shown on a number of occasions that it prefers not to abide by international rules, which is why NATO members have sought to actively address the Russian threat by stepping efforts to counter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe by bolstering its forces in Eastern-flank allies, and to develop tools for responding to the hybrid warfare waged by Russia in Europe. The latter, according to the Warsaw Summit, could be a trigger of Article 5. Mr. Pszczel stressed that NATO aims to preserve the dialogue with Russia and have Moscow as a partner that is integrated in the Western policy process.

Dr. Iryna Klymenko, Chief Economic Adviser and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies “New Ukraine”, addressed the problem of Russian influence in Ukraine as paramount to the deterioration of governance in the country. The current turmoil in the country is the product of a year-long neglect of security issues that allows for the striking of corrupt deals for personal benefit. Vested interests in the government of Ukraine have established a system for embezzlement of public resources, making the Ukrainian case an extreme example of the security–corruption nexus described in the Kremlin Playbook. Dr. Klymenko added that defence and law enforcement institutions have been entirely used for the private benefit of the elite. She also underscored that Russia has taken advantage of the enormous social and economic challenges in Ukraine, as well as of the civil conflict in Donbass to attempt to break the stability of the internal political system. Nonetheless, Dr. Klymenko said that she is cautiously optimistic, as while the reforms in the country have not been happening at satisfactory pace, Ukraine has taken key steps towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

The second panel, chaired by Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism (2009 – 2012), focused on a comparative country-by-country overview of different dimensions of Russian influence. Dr. Martin Jirusek, Lecturer in Energy Security Studies at Masaryk University, presented the key findings of his recent book examining the linkages between Gazprom’s business decisions and Russian politics. He concluded that Gazprom’s behaviour has been generally based on commercial grounds as the company aims to preserve its market share and maintain dominant positions in regional markets. Dr. Jirusek pointed out that while the Czech Republic and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe liberalized their oil and gas markets in the 1990s and now they operate according to market principles, other countries have not been so successful.

Munir Podumljak, Executive Director of the NGO Partnership for Social Development in Croatia, stressed on the fact that we currently do not have enough information either about the instruments Russia had been using, or about Kremlin’s ultimate objective. He added that Russia is quick to recognize a country’s weakness and exploit it for its own advantage. In the case of Croatia, this is the persistent capture of the whole society, which includes control by a few well-connected individuals over the media, the business sector and all aspects of society. Hence, if Russia achieves to capture the political elite in the country, it would be able to capture the whole society. One way to dominate the local political narrative, according to Mr. Podumljak, is to use social media for strategic targeting of the population with hundreds of fake media reports.

For historical and cultural reasons, a large part of the Montenegrin population feels strong attachment to Russia, explained Dragan Koprivica, Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Transition in Podgorica. Russian companies have taken over a significant share of the economy, while Russian tourists make up the largest group of visitors to the country. He added that even the largest company in Montenegro, the aluminum plant KAP, used to be in Russian ownership. Until around 2014-2015, Russia had not tried to interfere in domestic politics including by stopping the independence referendum in 2006. However, Mr. Koprivica noted that Montenegro’s application to NATO changed Russia’s stance, and it began to actively support the opposition party, the Democratic Front, which organized protests against the government of PM Djukanovic and later against Montenegro’s joining of NATO. Mr. Koprivica said that the culmination of the Russian attempt to influence the foreign policy course of the country was the attempted coup in October, which has been allegedly organized by Russian security officers in collaboration with Serbian nationalists.

Misha Popovikj, Researcher at the Institute for Democracy 'Societas Civilis', discussed Russian influence in Macedonia. He said that Russia has little commercial interest in Macedonia apart from a few investments in the energy sector. However, he underscored that we should not underestimate the Russian broader objectives in the Western Balkans. Russia is filling the gap that was left by the EU, as Macedonia has drifted away from its objective of improving governance and regulatory standards. Mr. Popovikj mentioned that the Austrian and Russian governments have supported an extremely corrupt government preventing any major social change along the path of technocratic transformation. For the latter to materialize, civil society would need to become more engaged in the EU integration process, while public trust in institutions and media freedom would be crucial pre-requisites for the creation of a good government.

Jesús Pérez Triana, a free-lance Security and Defense Analyst working for the Letras Libres Review in Madrid, described the Russian influence in Spain as weak due to the fact that economic links remain negligible. However, Russia has been able to penetrate the Spanish and Latin American media space by flooding it with media outlets that successfully spreads Russian propaganda.

On the opposite side of Europe, Ukraine has been the country most vulnerable to Russian influence, according to Oksana Nezhyvenko from the Department of Finance of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine have been the most visible aspects of the Russian crude involvement in the domestic affairs of the country. Russia, as in the case studies from the Kremlin Playbook, has systematically used governance deficits and corruption to take over key industries and increase pressure over the central government via the Ukrainian energy dependence. Since the Maidan revolution, the new government has done a lot to drive through institutional change. Ukraine has stopped importing natural gas and has joined an EU-Ukraine free trade area since the beginning of 2016. On the governance front, the Ukrainian parliament passed a comprehensive anti-corruption package of laws, which have aimed to improve accountability and prevent massive embezzlement of public resources. According to Ms. Nezhyvenko, some challenges remain, including a very complicated tax system prompting administrative corruption; the delay of the visa liberalization with the EU; the corrupt media sphere; the implementation of assets declaration investigations, etc.



Traicho Traikov concluded the discussion by saying that albeit difficult and not in fashion today, policy decisions based on values should be encouraged. This would be the most long-lasting way to eradicate governance deficits and strengthen the rule of law.






The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe




Media Coverage

Photo Gallery

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events-1814What Comes After the Islamic State: Implications for Europe https://csd.bg/events/event/what-comes-after-the-islamic-state-implications-for-europe/The current situation in Syria and Iraq and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State (IS) have created new security threats globally and in Europe. Since its rise as a new actor on the Islamist extremist scene, IS has become infamous for its exceptionally cruel tactics in territories it controls but also for organising and/or inspiring numerous terrorist acts far from its official borders, including in Europe and the US. Recently, the international military campaign against IS has been intensifying and the latter has suffered territorial loses.The current situation in Syria and Iraq and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State (IS) have created new security threats globally and in Europe. Since its rise as a new actor on the Islamist extremist scene, IS has become infamous for its exceptionally cruel tactics in territories it controls but also for organising and/or inspiring numerous terrorist acts far from its official borders, including in Europe and the US. Recently, the international military campaign against IS has been intensifying and the latter has suffered territorial loses.
The latest developments in the conflict along with possible scenarios for an IS defeat, as well as its aftermath and implications for Europe, were the subject of a round table discussion held at the Center for the Study of Democracy on 18 November 2016, with the participation of Brian Jenkins, Senior Adviser to the President of the RAND Corporation.

Mr. Jenkins discussed recent developments with regard to IS in the Middle East, specifically focusing on the current military campaign in the the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Aleppo. Mr. Jenkins presented a detailed analysis of the differences and parallels between the two key cities, the Iraqi and Syrian insurgencies and military tactics of the US-led coalition. He explained that even if driven away from its strongholds, the Islamic State is not likely to disappear – instead it is expected to go underground and engage in guerilla warfare for which it is well prepared.
However, Mr. Jenkins noted that this is not an option for foreign fighters, who are easily identifiable and are expected to either move to fight in another Jihadist front or return home. The latter possibility presents specific challenges for Europe, as around 5,000 to 6,000 Europeans mainly from France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany have joined the Islamic State. While a portion of these might come back disillusioned, others are likely to stay motivated to continue the fight. Therefore, a rise in terrorist attacks in Europe can be reasonably expected. Mr. Jenkins highlighted persisting gaps in sharing of information between intelligence services and differences in legislation across EU member states as major challenges that impede the fight against terrorism.

Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security program at the Center for the Study of Democracy commented on the variety of approaches to prevent and counter violent extremism across the EU, including with respect to deradicalisation or prosecution of returning foreign fighters. She noted the lack of consensus regarding the effectiveness of relying on risk indicators to recognise and address radicalisation into violence early on, despite the widespread use of such approaches Europe-wide.

Mr. Jenkins reiterated that it is very difficult to predict when someone will commit a terrorist act, even with regard to those already monitored by security services. He also compared the different paths of radicalisation of Al-Quaeda recruits and the new generation of IS followers who radicalise much quicker, do not undergo the same ideological indoctrination and are not particularly religiously observant. Hence it has become more difficult to build a typical profile of the terrorist-to-be and use risk indicators to predict violence.
He noted, however, that broad preventive efforts aimed at addressing social exclusion and polarisation and building trust through community policing are essential for their own sake. Monitoring thousands of suspected terrorists remains a significant challenge for intelligence services, as it requires substantial resources in terms of staff and funding.

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events-1808Second Annual Meeting of the South East Coalition on Whistleblower Protectionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/second-annual-meeting-of-the-south-east-coalition-on-whistleblower-protection/The South East Europe (SEE) Coalition on Whistleblower Protection held its second Annual Meeting organized by the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) and Blueprint for Free Speech (BPfFS) with support of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), in Zagreb. The event provided additional boost to the promotion and protection of whistleblowers in the region. It contributed to the overall efforts challenging the national governments to seek better legal solutions and to work more intensively on establishing policy implementation mechanisms. Representatives of the SELDI members from RAI, the Center for the Study of Democracy, Institute Alternativa and the Romanian Academic Society (SAR), took part in the event.The South East Europe (SEE) Coalition on Whistleblower Protection held its second Annual Meeting organized by the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) and Blueprint for Free Speech (BPfFS) with support of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), in Zagreb on 14 November 2016. The event provided additional boost to the promotion and protection of whistleblowers in the region. It contributed to the overall efforts challenging the national governments to seek better legal solutions and to work more intensively on establishing policy implementation mechanisms. Representatives of the SELDI members from RAI, the Center for the Study of Democracy, Institute Alternativa and the Romanian Academic Society (SAR), took part in the event.

The meeting gathered approximately 20 civil society organisations, public-interest activists and investigative journalists, from the SEE. It aimed at fostering sustainability of the Coalition by ensuring a platform for furthering the organizational development and building.

The Event at the website of the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative

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events-1804Defrauding the Bulgarian Public Procurement System: Prevention, Countering and Analysis of Corruption Riskshttps://csd.bg/events/event/defrauding-the-bulgarian-public-procurement-system-prevention-countering-and-analysis-of-corruptio/Despite the legislative and institutional progress, especially in terms of increased transparency and access to data, the public procurement (PP) sector in Bulgaria continues to be associated with high levels of corruption risk. The number of irregularities uncovered by the control bodies remains considerable. At the same time there is a lack of effective investigation, while criminal cases, involving PP, are still very limited and predominantly focused on the lower levels of governance. Despite the legislative and institutional progress, especially in terms of increased transparency and access to data, the public procurement (PP) sector in Bulgaria continues to be associated with high levels of corruption risk. The number of irregularities uncovered by the control bodies remains considerable. At the same time there is a lack of effective investigation, while criminal cases, involving PP, are still very limited and predominantly focused on the lower levels of governance. These were some of the overall conclusions among the participants at the round table “Defrauding the Bulgarian public procurement system: prevention, countering and analysis of corruption risks”, organized by CSD on 31 October 2016.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Board of the Center for the Study of Democracy, highlighted the existing challenges in the public procurement sphere. According to Dr. Shentov, there is a strong need for more systematic approach and concrete, actionable measures for countering fraudulent activities in the sector, because public procurement is characterized by complex corruption practices and dependencies, which ultimately lead to state capture. Integration of independent monitoring system in the sector will be an important step to addressing the existing corruption risks in a more comprehensive manner.

Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister for European Funds and economic policy, acknowledged experience and valuable contribution of CSD through the years. Mr. Donchev highlighted the progress in the area of public procurement, mainly with regards to the latest legislative advancements and the drive to continue the electronization of the system. According to Mr. Donchev, the main challenge has to do with the allowing for market distortions and creating false economic incentives. The effective control and prevention are key but ultimately the focus should be put on sustaining a competitive economic environment.

Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic program at CSD, presented the most recent trends, dynamics and the most pressing risks in the area of public procurement. There is a clear trend of sustaining very limited number of criminal cases, which do not reach the higher echelons of power. The fluctuations in the public procurement sector are often tied to political cycles, while at the same time the number of irregularities remains significant. Mr. Stefanov also discussed the role of the European financing in the Bulgarian public procurement landscape, highlighting that EU Funds gradually expand their share in the overall PP market. Public procurement, financed by the EU, is both more competitive and risk averse – analysis by CSD found the exclusively state-funded PP is up to four times more vulnerable to corruption, compared to EU funded procurement.

Stefan Karaboev, Analyst at CSD, discussed the main public procurement trends in the infrastructure sector. The 2010 – 2015 period saw notable increase both in terms of number of contracts and of value. The concentration of PP contracts is visible on macro, as well as on micro level, as the value of contracts, awarded to the top 40 construction companies (by turnover), peaked to 62 % of the overall PP value in the sector (23 % of the total PP market value). In the meantime, as the Bulgarian construction companies are becoming increasingly dependent on public funds (predominantly EU) for their survival, there is an increased corruption pressure upon the public administration. The market concentration of public procurement raises important questions with regards to the competition in the particular sector. In conclusion, Mr. Karaboev made a review of CSD`s most pressing recommendations in the PP sector, including the need for increasing the effectiveness of criminal prosecution; adopting active measures for increasing the effectiveness of the existing control mechanisms; integrating preventive instruments against market concentration in key economic sectors; and introducing independent system for assessing the enforceability of anticorruption policies on institutional level.

Emil Dechev, Judge, Criminal Division of the Sofia City Court, confirmed that the very limited number of criminal cases involving PP seem suspicious in the context of the large volume of uncovered irregularities in the sector. According the Mr. Dechev, the reasons for the existing status quo are mainly related to the complexity of investigating and prosecuting PP offences, the lack of experience and capacity, as well as the existence of political protection and inactiveness of the law enforcement institutions. Aneliya Yordanova, Director of the "Analysis and reporting of inspection activities" Directorate at the Agency for State Financial Inspection (PFIA), discussed the common administrative aspects and types of irregularities in the PP market. Municipalities continue to be subjected to financial inspection more often than any other type of administrative structures in the country.

Dr. Todor Galev, Senior analyst at CSD, presented selected methods for monitoring and analysis of corruption risks in the area of public procurement. Special attention was paid to the issue of automated red flags information systems. Implementation of risk assessments in real time, within each of the PP stages, and classification of potentially risky procurements, according to the number and type of the identified risks (red flags), will facilitate the prioritization and the adoption of follow-up measures.








Public Procurement Criminality: Practical Guide for Preventing, Countering and Analyzing Corruption Risks
CSD Policy Brief: Governance of the Bulgarian Public Procurement Sector: Corruption Risks and Criminal Prosecution


Media coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1802Countering Extortion Racketeering in Bulgaria: Examining the Evidence and Devising Appropriate Measures https://csd.bg/events/event/countering-extortion-racketeering-in-bulgaria-examining-the-evidence-and-devising-appropriate-measu/During the 1990s, Bulgaria experienced a significant upsurge in extortion racketeering, a crime which came to define the decade. Even though rates have decreased in recent years, the problem appears to persist. On 27 October 2016, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a round table discussion on Countering Extortion Racketeering: Problem areas and Possible Measures. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Interior, General Directorate National Police, General Directorate Combatting Organised Crime and the Sofia Appellate Court. During the 1990s, Bulgaria experienced a significant upsurge in extortion racketeering, a crime which came to define the decade. Even though rates have decreased in recent years, the problem appears to persist.On 27 October 2016, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a round table discussion on Countering Extortion Racketeering: Problem areas and Possible Measures. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Interior, General Directorate National Police, General Directorate Combatting Organised Crime and the Sofia Appellate Court.

Let. Chavdar Chervenkov, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the meeting by introducing briefly the initiative behind the event, which examines forms and practices of extortion racketeering in six European countries. In Bulgaria, the main economic sectors which were inspected for the presence of extortion were agriculture and hospitality.

Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented in detail the results of the study. He noted that there is a significant drop in the cases of extortion (especially compared to the boom experienced in the nineties), which was observed not only in police statistics but also in victimisation surveys. Nevertheless, he stressed that these findings might be misleading, as a significant number of firms report an experience with corruption of administrative organs, which on closer inspection can instead be classified as cases of administrative extortion. The victims of these crimes often do not recognize the act as racketeering as violence is rare and the perpetrators are administrative officials. Mr. Bezlov addressed extortion in the agricultural and hospitality sectors, which are often perceived as bribery, but in reality are perpetrated by politically protected networks and this explains the stability in criminal practices during changes of governing coalitions.

Dr. Atanas Rusev, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the methodology for assessing vulnerability towards extortion racketeering developed as a result of the analysis. The aim of the assessment tool is to measure the opportunities in front of OCGs, which make the perpetration of the crime possible. The purpose of the tool is to enable early identification which can supplement traditional law enforcement approach of investigating extortion and inform preventive an pro-active measures against this crime.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program at the Center of the Study of Democracy introduced the general legislative framework for fighting organized crime with a particular focus on the institute of the protected witness. She noted that in Bulgaria this method is very often employed in criminal proceedings against organised criminal groups, yet its effectiveness appears to be low. She stressed the importance of utilizing this method only when strictly necessary as it infringes upon equality and adversarial conditions for the parties in a judicial procedure and essential rights of defendants enshrined in Bulgarian, European and international law. She further outlined a number of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the institution of the protected witness, as well as for implementation of best practices from abroad such as the possible introduction of the figure of collaborator of justice often employed in Italy.

Plamen Datsov, judge at the Sofia Appellate Court, outlined the long standing practical problems that are often experienced and lead to a diminishing of the effectiveness of special investigative tools in the fight against organized crime. He noted that Bulgaria’s poor record at the European Court of Human Rights can largely be attributed to infringements of the right of defendants of fair trial due to unlawful means and problematic use of special investigative means and protected witnesses to prove a crime in court.

During the discussion panel, Svetoslav Pashov, inspector at the General Directorate National Police, stressed that the shortages in material and human resources are one of the factors hindering the effectiveness of police investigations in cases of complex crimes. He further indicated that there are significant differences in the court practices with regards to criminal proceedings, which further complicates and impedes the work of police in pre-trial investigations.





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events-1806Shadow Power: Corruption and Hidden Economy in Southeast Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/shadow-power-corruption-and-hidden-economy-in-southeast-europe/In the past ten years, both the nature of corruption and the anticorruption agenda in Southeast Europe have changed. Political corruption has replaced petty bribery both as the dominant concern of national and international reformists and as one of the leading causes for most social and economic damage. The earlier emphasis on harmonising national legislation with international standards has now been substituted by a focus on its enforcement. In 2012 the European Commission adopted a new enlargement approach, which placed rule of law, anti-corruption, and judicial reform at the heart of the process. To respond to the new EU policy priorities, the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) coalition and the Macedonian Anti-Corruption Platform have developed and implemented a civil society-led approach to monitoring and tackling corruption, which provides policy makers with important insights.In the past ten years, both the nature of corruption and the anticorruption agenda in Southeast Europe have changed. Political corruption has replaced petty bribery both as the dominant concern of national and international reformists and as one of the leading causes for most social and economic damage. The earlier emphasis on harmonising national legislation with international standards has now been substituted by a focus on its enforcement. In 2012 the European Commission adopted a new enlargement approach, which placed rule of law, anti-corruption, and judicial reform at the heart of the process. To respond to the new EU policy priorities, the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) coalition and the Macedonian Anti-Corruption Platform have developed and implemented a civil society-led approach to monitoring and tackling corruption, which provides policy makers with important insights.

The Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Ruslan Stefanov, presented the latest findings of the Shadow Power: Assessment of Corruption and Hidden Economy in Southeast Europe report, prepared by Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) — the largest indigenous good governance initiative in SEE – at a panel discussion in the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University on 17 October 2016. According to Mr. Stefanov, the results from the most recent corruption monitoring exercise shows that in none of the countries in the region has there been a clear sustained policy breakthrough in anticorruption though efforts to deliver technical solutions and to improve the functioning of the law enforcement institutions, mostly with support from the EU, have continued and even intensified in some cases. This has led to further slow decline in administrative corruption levels but at the expense of waning public support for reforms and of declining trust in national and European institutions.

Martin Vladimirov, Energy Analyst in the Economic Program of CSD, underscored that one of the weakest links in the governance of the countries in the SEE has been the management of the energy sector. Mr. Vladimirov mentioned that the persistent state capture practices in the energy sector have transformed into a separate energy security risk along with excessive dependence on energy imports; reliance on a limited number of energy suppliers; high energy poverty levels; unsustainable energy intensity and demand. He added that the corporate governance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is characterized by political meddling in the day-to-day operations; non-transparent staffing procedures; prevalent political affiliations; conflicts of interest; and limited management transparency and accountability. CSOs and governments should look for several red flags: unfavorable financial indicators of SOEs, debts, and public procurements that prioritize a single company, especially in the construction of sometimes unnecessary infrastructure.




Shadow Power: Assessment of Corruption and Hidden Economy in Southeast Europe

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events-1826The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-kremlin-playbook-understanding-russian-influence-in-central-and-eastern-europe/Russia has used a number of instruments to amplify its economic footprint in Central and Eastern Europe, aiming to increase its political influence, to capture public policy making, and ultimately to discredit the West's democratic model, and undermine trans-Atlantic ties. These instruments have been outlined in The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Eastern and Central Europe, a report prepared by the Center for the Study of Democracy in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The report was presented at a public event at CSIS in Washington D.C. Russia has used a number of instruments to amplify its economic footprint in Central and Eastern Europe, aiming to increase its political influence, to capture public policy making, and ultimately to discredit the West's democratic model, and undermine trans-Atlantic ties. These instruments have been outlined in The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Eastern and Central Europe, a report prepared by the Center for the Study of Democracy in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The report was presented at a public event at CSIS in Washington D.C. on 13 October 2016.

More than 150 US policy-makers, experts and media reporters participated in the event. The study's leading authors presented the key findings from the report, which illuminate the linkages between Russia's economic presence in Central and Eastern Europe and the region's general decline in political stability, diminishing democratic standards, and erosion of governance standards in five case study countries: Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Latvia.

In his opening remarks, CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov emphasized that we need to look first at the Russian economic footprint in Europe, and metrify this footprint, which is still largely unknown or ignored; otherwise most probably we'd be cataloging only anecdotal evidence. On the other side, we need to run this analysis from different optics - the governance deficits, gaps and even failures in Europe - both at EU and national level - which provide ample opportunities for Russian aggressive economic and political behavior.

Heather Conley, CSIS Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic, explained that the research had determined that Russia cultivated an opaque web of economic and political patronage across the region that the Kremlin uses to influence and direct decision-making. This web resembles a network-flow model—or “unvirtuous circle”—which the Kremlin can use to influence (if not control) critical state institutions, bodies, and economies, as well as shape national policies and decisions that serve its interests while actively discrediting the Western liberal democratic system.

According to Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at CSD, Russia has exploited governance deficits in the five countries, e.g. in state-owned enterprises, regulatory bodies, the court system, the tax authorities, etc. to amplify its economic presence in Central and Eastern Europe. He quoted figures from the report estimating that, on average, Russia’s economic footprint in the five case countries ranged from about 11 percent (in the cases of Hungary and Slovakia over the course of the study period) to an astonishing 22 percent in Bulgaria. The full extent of Russia’s reach, however, remains unknown as Russia has sought to conceal its economic activity behind a web of foreign shell companies and offshore accounts.

In her keynote Kathleen A. Kavalec, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State commented that one of the most important achievements of the Kremlin Playbook report is to recognize the general framework used by Russia in its policies and activities towards the CEE, adding that Russia’s policy increasingly rejects the post-Cold War order in Europe. Russia, she underscored, is also willing to undermine existing rules, as witnessed in its coordinated aggressive actions in Ukraine, elsewhere in Europe and in the United States. Ms. Kavalec noted that they aim to weaken core institutions in the West and cast doubt on the integrity of the West’s democratic systems.

The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe

The event on the CSIS website
Video recording on the CSIS website
Video recording on the C-SPAN website
16 Policies to Combat the Kremlin’s Playbook at the CSIS website
Media Coverage

Presentation of the report “The Kremlin Playbook” at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, 26 January 2017, Berlin

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events-1964Energy Market Liberalization and Regional Market Integrationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/energy-market-liberalization-and-regional-market-integration/Competition in the energy sector needs to be reinvigorated if an efficient energy hub is to emerge in Turkey. This was one of the conclusions of the workshop on Energy Market Liberalization and Regional Market Integration, organized in Istanbul on October 10, 2016 on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress (WEC).

Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst from Bulgaria’s Center for the Study of Democracy pointed out the importance of including civil society organisations and independent experts in the designing of the country’s energy security strategy. He added that the cooperation between private and public actors would be crucial for the implementation of the project’s recommendation for market liberalization, reduction of energy security risks and the improvement of regional energy cooperation.

Energy cooperation in the SEE region and Turkey is mostly in the electricity sector, according to Sohbet Karbuz, Director of Hydrocarbons, Mediterranean Observatory for Energy (OME). In terms of natural gas, he claimed, rather than cooperation there is competition between countries, which is the result of the aim of all the governments to become a transit point for a number of competing energy routes. Dr. Karbuz reminded that Turkey wants to become a hub for natural gas; however, he reminded that a hub is a virtual point for price benchmarking, which is determined under a supply/demand principle. A hub does not mean a collection and dispatching point although some governments in the region including the Bulgarian one understands in exactly this way.

Dr. Karbuz pointed out that the EU had had the objective of creating a gas hub in the Mediterranean region. Currently Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Egypt are vying for this position. However, one of the big hurdles is the limited amount of different natural gas sources available in the region. Dr. Karbuz’s suggestion to this problem is better cooperation between the countries of the region to improve gas supply security. He reminded that Southeast Europe is the least prepared region to a halt in gas. Europe’s solution for this risk has been to promote the creation of one or two gas hubs in the region through joint cooperation in the framework of multilateral initiatives such as the Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity Group (CESEC);. The completion of the internal energy market by prioritizing gas trading exchanges is also part of Europe’s strategy to depend less on Russian supply.

Erdinç Özen, member of the Turkish National Gas Assembly and the Commercial Operations Manager of Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), stated that one of the biggest impediments to the gas market liberalization had been that BOTAŞ had had a virtual monopoly on the Turkish gas market. He claimed that if the gas sector was to be reformed, BOTAS’ stake should be diminished and the state-owned gas supplier restructured and fully unbundled. The gas market reform should also implement a new mechanism for subsidizing low income households, as the current model should be terminated. Another objective should be the expansion of the incentive mechanisms for gas infrastructure investments requiring a significant amount of capital. The authorities should follow EU regulatory models for designing similar incentive mechanisms. Mr. Özen further suggested that the natural gas market should be included as a separate trading segment on the Turkish power exchange.

Turkey will have a major advantage in becoming a major gas hub in the region due to state of its gas infrastructure in early 2020s. By 2022, it is estimated that Turkey will have the capacity to transit around 350 million cubic meters per day, up from circa 200 million cubic meter today. Özen stated that the physical upgrade of the transmission system should go hand in hand with the improvement of the legal framework and the strengthening of regional cooperation. He noted also that in terms of physical infrastructure, Turkey has enough onshore capacity but in terms of regional cooperation and interconnectivity, Turkey needs to develop further the cross-border infrastructure, hand in hand with the development of legal and contractual framework. Recently, some cross-border projects have already been implemented but the required legislation has left behind.

Eser Özdil, PETFORM’s Secretary General, Turkey would have to do a lot in order to achieve its objective of becoming an energy hub. Mr. Özdil emphasized that the mandatory gas purchases clauses in the long term gas supply agreements have been the chief obstacle before the liberalization of the energy sector. Long-term deals prevents spot gas trading to emerge, which makes price-setting mechanisms rigid and often the product of asymmetrical bargaining. In terms of regional integration, Mr. Özdil stated that the three main energy players in the SEE region have been the European Commission, Russia, and the US; thus, neither Bulgaria, for example, nor Turkey could fully implement their own energy strategy without considering others’ positions. When a country develops a strategy without close coordination with the other countries. He emphasized the common problem of all Balkan countries being unable to agree on a reference price for future alternative gas supplies. Last talks between Bulgaria and Turkey on this topic have been five years ago, he added. If the price benchmark is based on LNG deliveries, the clearing price should be somewhere between that of the US LNG, expected to be the most expensive in Europe, and the LNG from Qatar, which is expected to be cheapest option. Mr. Özdil added that Turkey should aim to be a trading hub, which not only distribute gas but also make reference prices. If it is successful on that, the country could strengthen its position as reference-price-spot for the CEE region.

Mr. Sohbet Karbuz reacted, stating that even now 66-67% of the gas market in CEE is based on spot-prices but this is mainly due to the market in the Central Europe, which is closed and well connected to the western gas hubs. Still countries like Bulgaria or Serbia rely only on prices determined by long-term contracts.

Martin Vladimirov from the Center for the Study of Democracy stated that there are several conditions that need to be met for a gas hub to emerge. Any successful gas trading hub instituted in Turkey must have two fundamental aspects: firstly, it must have the ability to import and export gas to the market, and secondly, there must be a mature consumption center, either through domestic demand or through the existence of markets easily reached from the hub. Turkey has the potential to satisfy both requirements. However, regional gas market integration would not depend only on making new diversification options possible, according to Mr. Vladimirov. It also depends on the creation of a new regulatory framework the encourages competitive entrants through the promotion of a gas volume release program through public auctions instead of a contract release method, which would increase the Turkish market’s liquidity and spot trading levels. The natural gas volume release program will encourage diversity of supply sources fostering the security of supply, especially in winter times. It will also forge a more dynamic gas supply and demand equilibrium than the monopolistic structure established by the state-owned company, BOTAS. Releasing gas volumes on auctions would also stimulate global capital investment and also the transference of financial risk to the private sector diminishing the burden on the budget already under significant strain.

In the second panel devoted to the practical implications for the development of energy trading hubs in Southeast Europe, Mr. Vladimirov emphasized that cooperation is a must if source diversification is wanted. He noted the need for the creation of viable mechanisms for trust building. Mr. Vladimirov pointed out that the establishment of a gas hub would require depth, width, and adequate capacity. Depth requires large liquidity that prevents severe price fluctuations at a virtual trading exchange; breadth refers to the inclusion of a large number of diverse market players trading spot, forward and futures contracts; immediacy requires the elimination of contractual congestion and a vibrant spot trading; and finally resilience relates to the ability of the hub to absorb external shocks including supply cuts that can be easily replaced by LNG, storage capacity or an alternative pipeline routes. To establish such a virtual trading point that could easily become a reference to the whole SEE region, Turkey would need to demonopolise the gas import and wholesale supply, increase storage capacity, optimize the use of LNG regasification facilities and launch a transparent electronic clearing system that would be open to all private market participants on equal terms. To prevent capacity bottlenecks, the transmission systems operator would have to ensure open access to capacity booking and efficient balancing mechanisms.

Silvia Bayer, International Energy Agency’s Desk Officer for Turkey, said that the dynamics in global energy markets had been changing dramatically in the past two years. The future of the EU natural gas market depends on the speed and nature of the process of coal and nuclear phase-out. She added that LNG supplies coming from the US and Australia indicate that the competition will increase significantly in the medium term. This would benefit Turkey already in the short term as the country benefits from its strategic position of being on the crossroad between major gas-producing and consuming region. However, to achieve its objective, Turkey would need to become more involved in regional cooperation, which would also require significant investment in infrastructure. At the moment, Turkey’s gas transmission capacity is not enough to meet its peak demand in winter, which creates significant risks before the reliability of energy supply and is also closely related to the security of electricity supply, which is significantly dependent on natural gas. Ms. Beyer added that the IEA’s recommendations for Turkey include diversification of gas supplies, gas infrastructure development, and, very critically, the completion of the natural gas market reform.

BP Turkey’s Natural Gas Marketing Manager, Zeyno Elbaşı, focused her presentation on the important example of the natural gas hubs located in Northwestern Europe, where countries have improved and liberalized the natural gas market, which has allowed for the efficient functioning of gas trading hubs with great depth in the region. The best examples to be found in Europe are the National Balancing Point spot trading hub in the UK and the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in the Netherlands. Ms. Elbaşı added that the share of spot trading on the European gas market had risen from 15% in 2005 to over 50% in 2015. She added that the rate in SEE and Turkey is much lower as pricing is determined by political considerations and pricing mechanisms are non-transparent, which prevents the emergence of an efficient and liquid trading hub in the region.

What matters is the security and diversity of natural gas supply, rather than which country exactly hosts the gas hub, according to the last panelist, Julian Popov, Senior Fellow and Adviser to the European Climate Foundation. He pointed out several problems in the current structure of the natural gas sector. The first one is the overall decline of the natural gas demand caused by significant improvements in energy efficiency, the increase of the share of renewable sources in the power sector and the overall decline of industrial manufacturing. Ironically, the more gas demand declines, the more money on natural gas infrastructure are spent. He added that governments tend to ignore the overall decline in natural gas consumption when deciding on whether to join a pipeline project, which in the long-term could lead to a massive amount of stranded assets in the gas sector. Mr. Popov also argued that it would be consumers rather than producers that would determine the supply/demand dynamics on future gas exchanges. He went on to say that natural gas consumers have become more influential than the suppliers, since suppliers are in need to find markets to sell their product. From this perspective, Turkey appears to be the biggest player since it consumes most of the natural gas supply in the region.

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events-1796Countering Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/countering-corruption-and-state-capture-in-southeast-europe/In the past ten years, both the nature of corruption and the anti-corruption agenda in Southeast Europe have changed. Political corruption has replaced petty bribery both as the dominant concern of national and international reformists and as one of the leading causes for most social and economic damage. The earlier emphasis on harmonising national legislation with international standards has now been substituted by a focus on its enforcement. In 2012 the European Commission adopted a new enlargement approach, which placed rule of law, anti-corruption, and judicial reform at the heart of the process. To respond to the new EU policy priorities, the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) coalition and the Macedonian Anti-Corruption Platform have developed and implemented a civil society-led approach to monitoring and tackling corruption, which provides policy makers with important insights. In the past ten years, both the nature of corruption and the anti-corruption agenda in Southeast Europe have changed. Political corruption has replaced petty bribery both as the dominant concern of national and international reformists and as one of the leading causes for most social and economic damage. The earlier emphasis on harmonising national legislation with international standards has now been substituted by a focus on its enforcement. In 2012 the European Commission adopted a new enlargement approach, which placed rule of law, anti-corruption, and judicial reform at the heart of the process. To respond to the new EU policy priorities, the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) coalition and the Macedonian Anti-Corruption Platform have developed and implemented a civil society-led approach to monitoring and tackling corruption, which provides policy makers with important insights.

The Second Regional Anti-Corruption Policy Forum, supported by the DG NEAR at the European Commission, USAID and the Central European Initiative (CEI), drew an accurate picture of the corruption environment in the region, presented the latest data on corruption pressure and introduced new ways for improving anti-corruption efforts. The forum underlined that critical sectors with high corruption and state-capture risks should be addressed with priority. Special focus was placed on the state capture, the judiciary and the role of the civil society. The event gathered more than 100 representatives of the EU and civil society organizations from the region to brainstorm ideas for countering these risks.

The forum, held in Skopje on 29-30 September 2016, presented the main findings and policy recommendations from the SELDI 2016 Corruption Monitoring System in SEE to national and regional stakeholders. The event also set a platform for engagement of the state and civil society, taking stock of the analysis performed by coalition partners in the last four years, and seeking higher recognition of the value of CSOs participation in the reform process by the governmental institutions.

The representatives of the public institutions talked about the practical challenges of initiating a large-scale anti-corruption campaign in spite of the outside political pressure to prevent it from bearing fruit. Mr. Nicola Bertolini, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union in Skopje underlined that corruption should be countered by prevention, control and enforcement methods. To achieve this common goal, the Civil Society Facility supports the CSOs efforts to provide advocacy and keeping the governments accountable. The statement that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” was further reinforced by Mr. Alexander A. Arvizu, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). He further noted that we cannot let the concept of corruption operate with impunity and we cannot let corruption become substitute of the rule of law, as it will eventually destroy the foundation on which democracy rests. In that respect he congratulated Macedonia for recognizing the importance of anti-corruption and the establishment of the Special Prosecutor’s institution. Mr. Ivo Vajgl, MEP, Raporteur for Macedonia, European Parliament expressed his hope that the Macedonian parliamentary elections on 11 December 2016 will be democratic and transparent, and will be the start of an efficient cooperation between all parties working towards the common European goals. He also commented on the mood in the European Commission where according to various opinions the enlargement process should be slowed down. Mr. Vajgl however insisted on its acceleration, since only enlargement and unification can prevent the hate between countries and nations, leading to conflicts and war. Ms. Katica Janeva, Special Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Macedonia noted that the price of corruption is paid by the citizens, however all efforts are in place to provide the needed institutional response. The recognition by the people is giving them courage and commitment to achieve their mission. She stressed on the importance of civil society inclusion in the anti-corruption efforts, especially in tackling the challenge of ensuring accountability of political parties, their individual members, as well as limiting their potential to influence the courts.

Specific focus was placed on the collaboration between the policy-makers and the civil society in developing monitoring instruments for countering this structural problem, with concrete examples presented by SELDI and the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation. Ms. Sabine Zwaenepoel, Chapter Coordinator, Accession negotiations to the EU, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission underlined that since 2011 there is a new approach in accession negotiations, focusing on results, not only on legislative harmonization. Thus chapters 23 and 24 are opened at the beginning and closed at the end of the accession negotiations, in order to provide sufficient time for the reforms to take place. As safeguard measure negotiations on all other chapters could stop till a progress in these two chapters is achieved. Ms. Zwaenepoel highlighted as key issue of concern the lack of pro-activeness by the law enforcement and justice bodies in the region. She noted that if an institution is not pro-active, it is also not independent. Thus, sensitive areas such as the political party financing and financing of electoral campaigns remain untouched, while legislation and interpretation of laws remains formalistic. Ms. Zwaenepoel concluded with the need for mentality change and stated that DG NEAR will continue to work with SELDI on forming a more comprehensive monitoring mechanisms.

The participants agreed that in order to enhance whistleblowers’ protection, EC and the national governments should undertake internal mapping and ensure the opening of public and corporate data for scrutiny by the public and CSOs. In addition, the freedom of press and investigative journalism should in no way be obstructed, as noted by Dr. Janina Berg, Good Governance, Anti-Corruption & Human Rights Consultant, Ascent-EU. They key challenge is setting in place reliable, responsive protection mechanisms for whistleblower.

During the second day of the Policy Forum, the discussion focused on the processes of building institutional competencies and enhancing the efficiency of the administration. Mr. Vladica Babić, Assistant Director, Sector for the Prevention of Corruption at the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption, Sarajevo described their role in providing guidelines to institutions which are currently preparing Integrity Plans. He also noted the challenges that the complex administrative setup in Bosnia and Herzegovina poses to the effective coordination when improving the legal framework, the operations of judicial bodies, raising public awareness and participation, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Anti-corruption Strategy. Mr. Milos Mojsilovic, Senior Adviser, Corruption Prevention Department, Anti-Corruption Agency of Serbia further underlined that when maturity of the political system is missing, stronger mechanisms are needed. In that respect the Anti-Corruption Agency of Serbia has proposed legislative changes related to the rules for conflict of interest disclosure, provision of asset declarations to the Agency by all institutions, access to all relevant databases, and direct system of punishment.

The representatives of the civil society agreed that politization is the main tool of state capture and the key problem is not always lack of capacities, but the manner in which they are used. The participants also noted that judiciary can be improved only with good management, leadership and functioning internal integrity system.












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events-1798National Study on Domestic and Gender-based Violence and Elaboration of Victims' Support Modelhttps://csd.bg/events/event/national-study-on-domestic-and-gender-based-violence-and-elaboration-of-victims-support-model/Bulgaria is among the EU-member states where statistical information about victim-offender relationship is not gathered, hereby making impossible the assessment of the share of domestic violence among the crimes against the person. Domestic violence is not qualified as a criminal offence and is still not included in the Criminal Code – and respectively, in the statistical data provided by the Police and by the National Statistical Institute. In the described country context, the need of systematic study on the prevalence, forms, vulnerable groups, unmet needs of the victims, and possibilities for further stable improvement of their situation, is beyond any doubt.Bulgaria is among the EU-member states where statistical information about victim-offender relationship is not gathered, hereby making impossible the assessment of the share of domestic violence among the crimes against the person. Domestic violence is not qualified as a criminal offence and is still not included in the Criminal Code – and respectively, in the statistical data provided by the Police and by the National Statistical Institute. In the described country context, the need of systematic study on the prevalence, forms, vulnerable groups, unmet needs of the victims, and possibilities for further stable improvement of their situation, is beyond any doubt.

On 27th and 28th of September 2016 the Partners Bulgaria Foundation, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Human Rights Academy, Norway launched the final results from the National Study on Domestic and Gender-based Violence and Elaboration of Victims' Support Model.

On 27 September a press conference has been given at the Bulgarian News Agency attended by about 20 representatives of electronic and printed media; and on 28 September a closing seminar has been held with representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Agency for Social Protection, State Agency for Child Protection, the Ombudsman of Republic of Bulgaria, the Central Commission for Combat against Delinquent Behaviour of the Minor and the Under-aged, Association Animus Foundation, Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, Center of Women's Studies and Policies, Gender Education, Research and Technologies Foundation, Nadja Centre, National Network for Children.

Dr. Daniela Kolarova, Executive Director of Partners Bulgaria Foundation presented the partner organisations, the completed activities and the documents elaborated summarising the results.

Ms Lillian Hjorth, CEO of the Human Rights Academy, Norway, underlined the importance of considering the domestic and gender-based violence issue as a violation of human rights affecting in the greatest extent the most vulnerable: the most weak, the smallest, the minorities. She pointed out as a signal for positive changes the signing of the Istanbul Convention by the governments of Bulgaria and Norway and expressed hope that the both countries would ratify it soon.

Ms Penka Stoyanova, National Domestic Violence Coordinator at the Ministry of Interior, described the main challenges in the interinstitutional cooperation, the planning and the implementation of the activities, including the funding of the activities.

Ms Slavyanka Ivanova, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Programme of the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the results of the conducted National Study on Domestic and Gender-based Violence, in terms of the four problematic areas the study focused on: Factors and Causes, Scales and Prevalence, Consequences and Public Response. Main accent in the presentation of the results was the necessity to account the fact that the data presented by surveys on this topic do not refer to the real shares of the affected and the perpetrators; but only to those of them who voluntarily have agreed to provide this information about themselves. The hypothesis is confirmed that the women, especially the Roma women and girls, are more vulnerable in respect of multiple and systematic violence. On the other hand, the substantial shares of the victims among the men, the children, the elderly, and the people with non-heterosexual orientation and different from the conventional gender self-identification should not be undermined.

Ms Elmira Nesheva, Expert at Partners Bulgaria Foundation, briefly presented the content of the elaborated Victims' Support Model. The Model is based on the approach to the domestic and gender-based violence as a problem of the public health. It consists of practically-oriented advises to the potential victims and supporting specialists about the feasible actions in the areas of law enforcement, healthcare, supporting services, and the respective functions of the institutions and organisations involved in each separate aspect of the support and protection.

In the afternoon part of the closing seminar, Ms Slavyanka Ivanova from the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the main recommendations to the policies extracted as a result of the National study. The recommendations are grouped in seven main areas: Monitoring and Evaluation, Prevention, Crisis Measures, Focus on Perpetrators, After-crisis Support, Improved Cooperation and Resources.

Dr. Solveig Bergman from the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies presented most recent data on the issue of violence in close relationships for Norway. She made a short review of the development of the system of support of victims and perpetrator-oriented measures in the country and the achievements in these areas insofar. Main strengths of this system are the engagement of the state to provide services, the obligation for each municipality to run at least one crisis centre and the universal access to the centres for people of different gender, age, ethnic background and religion.





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events-1965Ensuring Effective Cooperation between EU and Turkey in Fostering Security of Energy Supplyhttps://csd.bg/events/event/ensuring-effective-cooperation-between-eu-and-turkey-in-fostering-security-of-energy-supply/The EU-Turkey energy dialogue must be understood as a two-way street, in which the energy positions of the two parties come closer through taking into account each other interests. The integration of Turkey and its energy policy in the EU Energy Union should be based on a long term vision related to Europe’s diversification of natural gas supply, the expansion of the internal energy market, and the decarbonisation of the energy sector. Turkey will play an increasingly critical role in helping the EU in completing the energy security pillar in the Energy Union initiative. Turkey, on the other hand, will benefit from closer integration in the EU energy policy agenda both from the point of view of expanded energy trading with the EU and of improved regulatory framework fostering market liberalization and economic competitiveness. These were some of the conclusions of a workshop, organized by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), the Sofia-based Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), the Turkish oil and gas association (PETFORM) and the Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME) on 8th September, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. Senior Turkish and EU energy policy-makers took part in the event, and spoke on the Turkish energy security risks and challenges before the successful integration of Turkish energy sector in the Energy Union framework.

In their opening remarks, Ms Bengisu Özenç, TEPAV’s Macroeconomic Studies Program Director and Dr Todor Galev, Senior Analyst from the Center for the Study of Democracy, noted the crucial importance of the Turkish geopolitical position for the future of the Energy Union. Dr. Galev emphasized that the countries in the Black Sea region need to overcome their focus on bilateral energy cooperation, which is insufficient for the developing a strategic pan-European partnership agenda. More than ever, market integration, according to him, would require stronger policy cooperation that goes beyond inter-governmental talks but also includes businesses and civil society organizations (CSOs) in the energy dialogue.

Mr Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at the Economic Program of CSD said that Turkey had been gradually improving its energy security position relative to the average OECD levels despite the country’s rising energy consumption and dependence on energy imports. Based on the International Index of Energy Security Risks (IIESR), developed by the US Institute for 21st Century Energy, Turkey is ranked 14 out of the 75 largest energy consumers in the world in terms of the energy security position. He added that Turkey is one of the most vulnerable countries from possible energy supply cuts, especially during the seasonal peak demand period. Nonetheless, the country’s geographic location on the crossroad of major oil and gas routes could turn it into a natural gas hub. Its successful creation would depend on the gas market liberalization, the expansion of LNG import capacity and the setting-up of a virtual gas trading point. In terms of sustainability, despite recent improvements, Mr Vladimirov added, Turkey still falls behind Europe in energy efficiency and has a lot to do in environmental policies and carbon emission.

Mr Volkan Özdemir, Chairman of EPPEN Energy, focused on the differences in market models used by European countries in Northern and Southern Europe, and how the lack of a common established framework prevents the creation of the European Energy Union. He added that the Turkish government should work harder on revising its energy legislation to conform to the market principles of the European Union before the integration of the natural gas market in the region could proceed. In addition, he stated that the energy policy of the government is revealing that Ankara is more interested in being a transit corridor rather than a trading hub, which would require a significant change in the regulatory framework. The EU, on the other hand, has not be entirely supportive of the Turkish aspirations for becoming a new hub due to its fears that Turkey could become another Ukraine in terms of monopolizing gas transit for Europe.

Every country in the region wants to be an energy hub but this is unrealistic, according to the Turkish Oil Platform (PETFORM) Secretary General, Mr Eser Özdil, who argued that for a hub to be created, there needs to be a pricing mechanism and not just physical distribution. If Turkey is a virtual trading hub, this would benefit also the Energy Union as it could provide a gas benchmark for the whole SEE region that is not integrated enough in the EU internal market. What Turkey needs apart from the right gas market regulatory framework, is enormous investment in storage and LNG import infrastructure. He concluded by saying that even though Turkey is taking huge steps towards market liberalization, it would need to follow the EU governance model in the future.

Turkey is not doing enough on the sustainability front, according to the European Union Delegation Energy Manager, Mr Hasan Özkoç, who underscored how important it is for Turkey to increase its renewable energy use and to decarbonise its economy. The Turkey’s level of ambition in boosting wind and solar capacities seems to decrease after 2023 and the government renews its support program for abundant and cheap coal, which would not prevent the achievement of the necessary carbon emission cuts according to the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) targets.

Talking about the importance of harmony within energy policies, Dr Oktay Tanrısever, an international relations professor at the Middle East Technical University, claimed that it may be possible to establish a tripartite alliance between Turkey, EU and Russia in the framework of guaranteeing the security of energy supplies. He warned, though, of the growing dependence on the Russian gas supplies in case the Turkish Stream project is realized. Dr Tanrisever said that policy-makers should focus on energy diversification projects instead integrating the topic in their long-term strategy.

It would not be an exaggeration to argue that energy security is the main focus of the EU energy Union strategy, and natural gas is the primary focus, according to Dr Sohbet Karbuz, Director of Hydrocarbons at the Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME). This is quite logical because for more than a decade now ensuring diversification of supply sources and routes (with a special emphasis on the Mediterranean region and Southern gas corridor) has been regarded as one of the key issues in the EU energy security agenda. Like in the EU, the future of natural gas in Turkey is uncertain. Despite having ongoing and planned projects to bring gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Russia, EastMed, and Northern Iraq (which would mean a total of additional 100 bcm of new gas), Turkey may not need that much gas in the future. One way to solve this conundrum, according to Dr Karbuz, is to send the excess gas to European market but this could be risky because the EU would not want another Ukraine as a transit country. He claimed that the best format of improving the EU-Turkey energy relations, and aligning the EU market rules with those in Turkey is in fact the Energy Chapter of the accession negotiations, and not the Energy Community.

TEPAV’s Governance Unit Project Manager, Mr Ragıp Evren Aydoğan, stressed on the importance of transparent and participatory policy making processes in order to achieve energy supply security. Good energy governance requires also policy consistency and accountability, especially in the management of large energy projects. He added that Turkey with its natural role as a bridge between Asia and Europe will be instrumental for the diversification of the regional and EU energy supply with alternative sources from the Caspian basin and the Middle East. For this to happen, though, there is an acute need for improved energy policy coordination between the EU and Turkey.

The gas market liberalization policy has not proceeded as expected and the reason is at least partially, the lack of supply security, according to Mr Görkem Yusuf Topçu, the President of a Network Operation Group at the regulator, EPDK. Mr Topcu argued the importance of adopting EU regulations in order to establish a functioning, liberalised gas market. He added that BOTAS needs to be restructured but only gradually and that steps in the right direction had already been taken.

Mr Taylan Önerci, Business Development Manager at GAMA Energy, added to the discussion by noting that the development of an efficient energy policy requires a lot of political will. He added that Turkey would need to move away from long-term contracts as they have negatively affected the energy market, in general, and the electricity generation sector, in particular. By using its geopolitical position to bring alternative natural gas, Turkey would produce enormous economic benefits to the private sector. Comprehensive reorganization of BOTAS is essential if Turkey is to overcome the structural bottlenecks in its natural gas sector. Without this change, a dynamic market will not be formed and private sector involvement will not be forthcoming.
 

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events-1792Shadow Economies and Undeclared Work in Europe: New Insights and Policy Responsehttps://csd.bg/events/event/shadow-economies-and-undeclared-work-in-europe-new-insights-and-policy-response/In recent years the shadow economy, once thought to be a problem only for less economically developed countries, has become recognised a pressing issue for developed economies as well. It acutely affects Bulgaria which is widely recognised as having the largest shadow economy in the European Union. The Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in cooperation with the Sheffield University Management School (UK) and the Institute of Public Finance (Croatia) organised an international Marie Curie conference with the aim to provide a better understanding of the causes and effects of the shadow economy and undeclared work as well as to new insights in the field and to identify various policy responses. During the conference, which gathered leading academics, government officials and politicians, it became clear that it is possible to identify and rectify the shadow economy but that is neither an easy nor a simple task.In recent years the shadow economy, once thought to be a problem only for less economically developed countries, has become recognised a pressing issue for developed economies as well. It acutely affects Bulgaria which is widely recognised as having the largest shadow economy in the European Union. On 2 September 2016 in Sofia, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in cooperation with the Sheffield University Management School (UK) and the Institute of Public Finance (Croatia) organised an international Marie Curie conference with the aim to provide a better understanding of the causes and effects of the shadow economy and undeclared work as well as to new insights in the field and to identify various policy responses. During the conference, which gathered leading academics, government officials and politicians, it became clear that it is possible to identify and rectify the shadow economy but that is neither an easy nor a simple task.

In opening the conference, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, welcomed all the participants and guests and stressed the importance of gathering experts from diverse backgrounds in order to arrive at the best conclusions and policy remedies. He acknowledged the fact that the conference had gathered an outstanding international team of experts, with which Bulgarian and Southeast European institutions and partners could exchange ideas and practical insights into tackling the shadow economy. He pointed out Bulgaria still faces severe undeclared work problems as evidenced by CSD’s recent work supported by the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme.

Professor Colin Williams from Sheffield University emphasized the importance of understanding the difference between the causes and effects of undeclared work, and how this can most easily be achieved through the prism of institutional theory, which points to an asymmetry between formal and informal institutions as being the root cause of the informal economy. Professor Williams discussed different policy approaches towards undeclared work and laid out the hypotheses about the rational economic actor and the social actor, their behaviour, influences and reasoning behind engaging in hidden economy activities. He also presented a breakdown of the findings and conclusions of a study on participation in undeclared work based on the method of multi-level logistic regression using 27,563 interviews conducted in EU-28.

The Deputy Minister for Social Policy and Labour of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ms. Denitsa Sacheva, stressed that there were many determinants of the shadow economy including economic, social and cultural factors. She then went on to point out the Bulgarian government’s commitment to tackling these problems whilst ensuring that the views and opinions of all stakeholders are being taken into account. She acknowledged the importance of the EU support in this respect.

The first panel of the conference was dedicated to the conceptual and policy framework for tackling informality in the European Union. Delivering the first keynote speech Mr. Georgi Pirinski, Member of the European Parliament described the practices of ‘labour dumping’ where immigration and free movement can greatly swell the labour force in particular places. This, he stated, is then being used by employers to drive down wages and thus create a climate in which undeclared work can thrive. Mr. Pirinski cited the case of Sports Direct in the UK as a prime example where a glut of labour had been exploited and, as a group of MPs found, resulted in mass undeclared work. Mr Pirinski additionally noted how platform-based work arising in the ‘sharing economy’, such as cleaning agencies, can greatly increase the prevalence of undeclared work and the shadow economy. According to him, a solution to these problems will be the introduction of effective policies such as tax breaks. However, there was also an acknowledgement that a large cultural shift was required in order to fully redress the problems.

Mr. Arnis Sauka, Director at the Centre for Sustainable Business, Latvia, emphasized the complexity of the shadow economy, which, whilst not necessarily illegal, is merely unobserved. Mr. Sauka was strong in warning against creating an anti-entrepreneurial climate in trying to tackle the problem and then went on to stress that size assessment will always be an issue in the study of the shadow economy and that the best way of reducing its impact is to combine both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. However, it must be noted that no result should be taken as definitive but merely a guideline. Tentative assertions were then made as to the causes of the shadow economy, which included rational choice and tax morality. To summarise, Mr. Sauka concluded that in order to tackle undeclared work effectively the policy focus should be on multiple issues and not on a single one.

Measures for tackling the hidden economy and undeclared work in Bulgaria were discussed as part of the second panel of the conference. The President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria Mr. Plamen Dimitrov argued that the informal economy is the biggest generational challenge that Bulgaria is facing but that an over-focus on legality was not helpful. In addition, the point was made that high-levels of immigration drive the informal economy but at the same time reducing these levels would not be a sustainable solution. Instead, the primary area of development should be ensuring the public at-large was aware of the incentives of engaging in formal work and the subsequent penalties for not doing so. According to Mr. Dimitrov, this is the key to tackling the problem but at the same time these ameliorations could not be achieved through one single policy.

Mr. Veselin Mitov, International Secretary of the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour, highlighted the need for greater European involvement in tackling the undeclared economy and the high importance of a common response. The need for political cooperation, he noted, is paramount to finding effective solutions and without common responsive actions there is no hope of the problem being reduced.

The Mastercard Country Manager for Bulgaria and Macedonia Ms. Vanya Manova made it clear that the company she is representing is highly determined to reduce the size of the informal economy in the region. She differentiated between the passive and active dimension of shadow economies and argued that by addressing the passive aspect a strong improvement could be achieved. Given the fact that in Bulgaria the sector with the largest proportion of undeclared work is the food and beverage industry, she suggested two key measures to combat the informal economy - lowering the threshold of cash payments and obliging recipients of payments to accept cards with sanctions for non-compliance.

Ms. Teodora Dicheva of the General Labour Inspectorate brought into focus the different forms of manifestation of undeclared work in view of the jurisdiction of the agency in the area of labour law enforcement. She also emphasized on the importance of cooperation amongst all institutions, including domestic ministries, public and the private sector as well as NGOs, to tackle the problem. Ms. Dicheva spoke about the national and cross-border aspects of administrative cooperation in the field, which she identified as a key component of delivering effective policy responses to undeclared work.

Mr. Nikolay Petkov, Director of Risk Management at the National Revenue Agency, argued that an effective strategy in targeting the informal economy would involve a focus only on the riskiest aspects such as for example the so-called envelope wages. He also made it clear that in case policy measures were to be deployed and then suddenly withdrawn, then the negative effects would be more severe than if they had never been implemented in the first place. In summary, Mr. Petkov concluded that the informal economy is incredibly difficult to tackle because of strong, implicit, contractual relations between employees and employers.

The third panel of the conference discussed the monitoring of the hidden economy and undeclared work in Bulgaria and in Southeast Europe. Senior Researcher and expert for the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity Dr. Todor Yalamov, drew attention to a number of preliminary findings on the hidden economy sectors in Southeast Europe, concerning the immense diversity of scales and patterns, the demographics and the role of minimum wage among others. He also presented a strategy for addressing the undeclared economy in the region of interest. Mr. Yalamov believes this can be best achieved through social and not through economic policy, as many of those who participate in the informal economy are paid above the minimum wage. He also identified and clarified how hidden economy functioned in state, as well as in private enterprises in the region and pointed out that this was a matter which should be directly addressed by regional and national governments.

Professor Emilia Chengelova, Member of the Scientific Council of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, presented an extensive analysis of the shadow economy in Bulgaria and described the methodological approaches that are being used in studying shadow economic practices in the country. She pointed out that there is a wide and successful research experience in direct measurement of shadow economy through Social Survey Research in the country. She noted that the methodologies were not perfect but that using international measures may not be ideally suited and transferable to the Bulgarian economy. According to Professor Chengelova, the assessments and attitudes of the Bulgarian society towards the shadow economy are ambivalent, contradictory and charged with an impressive dose of pragmatism. People are inclined to seek the basic and major fault for shadow economy practices in the existing formal rules, which are inconsistent and full of gaps.

Mr. Milen Kolev of the National Statistics Institute (NSI) gave a step-by-step guide of the methodologies employed by the NSI in attempting to measure the shadow economy. Mr. Kolev emphasized on the different methods for measuring non-observed economy and discussed some of the adjustments made to measure Bulgarian GDP, which involved many aspects of the shadow economy including misreporting by producers, non-contractual obligations for producers to register, and illegal producers failing to register their products. It has been noted how in Bulgaria the non-observed economy as a share of GDP went up after the financial crisis but has since returned to its pre-2008 levels.

The last panel of the conference discussed the measuring and tackling of the hidden economy and undeclared work in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Croatia, which are the focus countries of the GREY Marie Curie project. Dr. Peter Rodgers, Lecturer in Strategy and Business at the University of Sheffield, outlined the findings of a focus group research conducted in Croatia. According to him, there are a large number of distinct reasons for undeclared work including individual motivations, normalisation, and a lack of trust in formal institutions. Dr. Rodgers detailed the measures applied to counteract them, which included fiscal cash registers, competition for sending receipts to the tax office (a type of national lottery) and workplace training without employment, and went onto to prescribe a number of further policy approaches, which all required changes starting from ‘the top’ meaning regional, national and European government.

Dr. Marija Risteska, Director of the Center for Research and Policy-Making (CRPM), Skopje, provided a comprehensive analysis of the hidden economy in Macedonia, which she estimated to represent between 24% and 47% of the national GDP, while the non-observed economy estimated by the state statistical office is standing at around 20% However, there has been observed a positive trend of the revenues coming from social security contributions over the last few years despite the political crisis and the decrease in tax rates in Macedonia. This is concurrent with a worsening of most of the major hidden economy indicators in the country with the key reasons for this being a non-issuance of fiscal bills and tax evasion. According to Dr. Risteska, in 2016 in Macedonia around 45% of employees with primary employment are partially or completely undeclared.

Ms. Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program at Center for the Study of Democracy, demonstrated how social norms are drivers of participation in the shadow economy in Bulgaria. She discussed the key drivers for undeclared work in new EU Member States and presented the results of a hidden economy population survey on the public attitudes towards tax compliance and formal institutions. Her key finding was that in Bulgaria there is a strong correlation between people who justify tax evasion and those with a higher propensity to engage in the shadow economy. The reason for this, Ms. Dzhekova argued, was due to institutional asymmetry. According to her, a drive is needed to ensure formal institutions were perceived as legitimate and a greater awareness of the negative consequences of tax evasion must be achieved, which should diminish both tax evasion and the informal economy. She concluded that over 70% of Bulgarian citizens are holding critical views towards the ability of the government to deliver public goods and services in exchange for taxes, distribute resources fairly and enforce rules universally.

Marie Curie Research Fellow Ms. Legha Momtazian from the University of Sheffield discussed how ‘personal connections’, which have many different names across cultures, have formed a major part of the informal economy. The reasons for these connections are numerous. However, they are often culturally embedded or a reaction to a centralised state. According to Ms. Momtazian, in Bulgaria 40% of the respondents to a survey on the matter labelled the significance of ‘personal connections’ in achieving goals as ‘important’, while 33% described them as ‘very important’. However, the survey did not show consistent use of ‘personal connections’, although they happen to be quite common when helping a person to find a job or access medical services.

Mr. Josip Franic, Researcher at the Institute of Public Finance, presented a thorough analysis of envelope wage practices in the EU, which are an illegitimate form of employment in which a formal employer conceals from the authorities the actual remuneration of their legally registered employee by declaring only a part of it. According to Mr. Franic, this quasi-formal form of employment was a far more complex issue than previous studies on the matter have suggested, with a direct policy approach not being a viable option. Indeed, in order to tackle the problem effectively, he stressed that ‘soft’ policy measures must be adopted to increase credibility of the state institutions on one hand and improve the tax morale of citizens on the other.

Following the conference a two-day summer school on the topic of shadow economy in Europe and beyond took place, where international experts and PhD students presented their work and research and debated the causes and impacts of the informal economy. The event included numerous simulations and presentations exploring issues such as the tax morale and informality in post-socialist rural areas, the informal competition in the private sector and the nature of the relationship between the minimum wage and the size of the shadow economy, among others.

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1794Development and Implementation of Unified Standards for Forced Return Monitoringhttps://csd.bg/events/event/development-and-implementation-of-unified-standards-for-forced-return-monitoring/The Center for the Study of Democracy and CVS-Bulgaria supported by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, co-financed by the European Union, launched the initiative Development and Implementation of Unified Standards for Forced Return Monitoring.The Center for the Study of Democracy and CVS-Bulgaria supported by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, co-financed by the European Union, launched the initiative Development and Implementation of Unified Standards for Forced Return Monitoring.

The initiative is requested by the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria and is set to conclude in February 2018. Its main purpose is to contribute to the development of a common EU policy on asylum and migration, as well as contribute to strengthening the area of freedom, security and justice in the application of the principles of solidarity and sharing of responsibilities between Member States and cooperation with third countries under Regulation (EC) № 516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council.

In particular, the initiative is expected to contribute to improving the national regulatory framework in the field of forced return by developing unified standards for monitoring; to developing and improving the concrete mechanisms for monitoring, respect and ensuring respect for fundamental rights and freedoms of third country nationals who are undergoing a procedure of forced return; to building and strengthening the capacity of all stakeholders involved.

The main activities of the initiative will be realized within 18 months and include the development of unified standards for forced return monitoring and their inclusion in the Guide for monitoring, implementation of independent monitoring of the stages of forced return and development of analytical reports and as a result strengthen national capacity for forced return monitoring.






This initiative is implemented with the financial support of
the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020,
co-financed by the European Union

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events-1790Tackling Criminal Finances: Anti-Money Laundering in Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/tackling-criminal-finances-anti-money-laundering-in-bulgaria/Money laundering (ML) and other financial crimes are generally linked to different predicate offences by organized crime groups (most often with regards to traffic of narcotics and human beings, prostitution, weapons, computer crimes, etc.). Combating and investigating money laundering thus requires a systematic approach to collection and analysis of financial information for the activities of organized crime groups, as well as broader application and understanding of the legal framework, and substantiation of the existing capacity within the relevant law enforcement structures. Money laundering (ML) and other financial crimes are generally linked to different predicate offences by organized crime groups (most often with regards to traffic of narcotics and human beings, prostitution, weapons, computer crimes, etc.). Combating and investigating money laundering thus requires a systematic approach to collection and analysis of financial information for the activities of organized crime groups, as well as broader application and understanding of the legal framework, and substantiation of the existing capacity within the relevant law enforcement structures. Those were part of the overall conclusions during a Round Table, organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 14 July 2016.

The participants, among which representatives of General Directorate National Police, the State Agency for National Security (SANS), the Commission for Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Assets, and the Basel Institute on Governance, discussed Bulgaria`s recent and historical developments in the domains of investigating and combating money laundering. The latest report from the Committee on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) at the Council of Europe assessed the country positively, especially when concerning the existing legal and institutional anti-money laundering (AML) framework.

The Bulgarian legislation is in line with the majority of the European and international norms but lack of effectiveness from its practical application leads to little tangible results. During the past several years there is a gradual increase in the number of the money laundering signals, sent to the Specialized Administrative Directorate "Financial Intelligence" at SANS. The volume of the new and observed pre-trial proceedings has also increased, as well as has the number of persons standing trial on ML charges. The relative share of effective sentences for ML however continues to be insignificant when compared to other types of crime. For instance in 2015 the number of persons with enforced effective sentence for drug trafficking was 444 and for tax-related crimes – 88. In the meantime, the same number for ML stood at only 4.

It is true that no universal solution exist for increasing the ML prevention and investigation effectiveness. Critical however are the presence of institutional capacity, including appropriate funding and qualified human resources. Intra-institutional cooperation on every level and international collaboration with foreign organizations and intelligence units are also key elements for establishing a solid track record when it comes to ALM and the forfeiture of the illegally obtained assets. Connected to this is also the requirement for establishing an effective organization and structuring of the related national bodies, with the aim of avoiding any duplication of functions, as well as of tackling the rise of destructive and artificially created cross-institutional competition. Last but not least, the Round Table participants agreed that the procedures leading to confiscation of illegally obtained assets should start as early as possible and go in parallel with (not after the conclusion of) the criminal proceedings.

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events-1968State Capture Unplugged: Countering Administrative and Political Corruption in Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/state-capture-unplugged-countering-administrative-and-political-corruption-in-bulgaria-1/The lack of a sustainable anticorruption solution in Bulgaria is indicative of a far more significant problem - the numerous corrupt relations and dependencies involving high-level officials and politicians, known as state capture. This leads to the formation of systemic flaws such as abuse of public procurement mechanisms, hidden economy, VAT and other tax scams, blocking of law enforcement and control institutions, media capture. These are the conclusions of the Twelfth Anticorruption Policy Forum, held by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 4 July 2016. The forum presented the findings of the Corruption Assessment Report, which examines the level of corruption and the efficiency of the anticorruption strategies and policies in the period 2015 – 2016.

In his opening remarks Dr Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, stressed that the levels of administrative corruption and state capture in recent years remain unacceptably high. CSD has been monitoring corruption in Bulgaria and supporting the development and implementation of anticorruption policies and measures for the past 18 years. Dr Shentov elaborated that there are two imperative reforms, both urgent and profound, that need to be placed on the immediate anticorruption agenda of the country: a restart of the system of enforcement and control agencies and establishment of an independent anticorruption prosecution. This requires the active involvement of the three major stakeholders against state capture - reform-minded politicians, civil society organizations and international partners (governments and international organizations).

The Corruption Assessment Report indicates that administrative corruption reached critically high levels in 2014, at a time of strong political instability. There is considerable corruption pressure on most institutions of the control system. Mr Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, stated that corruption deals are common at all levels of many public institutions and are very often carried out with the knowledge or the acquiescence of senior executives. Corruption is a systemic problem of the public administration in Bulgaria, and no consistent efforts are applied to address it. CSD developed a specialized monitoring tool, which can measure the discrepancy between corruption risk and anticorruption policies and between the stated objectives and the level of practical implementation of these policies.

The Corruption Assessment Report also notes some good practices, such as the adopted CCTV system by the Traffic Police (assessed positively by 63% of citizens), or the 363,633 violations identified by supervisory institutions in 2014. Despite these measures, the number of people affected by corruption was about 1.3 million in 2015 - 2016. Annually, only about 120-150 court cases (0.01%) finish with convictions. 

Mr Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, emphasised the importance of public-private partnerships in anticorruption, highlighting CSD’s efforts in this respect. A radical reform in all institutions is needed in order to disentangle existing corruption dependencies. Mr Plevneliev pointed out that the public has a right to know the truth about failed energy projects such as Belene NPP and Tsankov Kamak. A possible counter-measure he proposed could be the use of electronic records for all projects and contracts, as was the case with lot 2 of the Struma highway. Mr Plevneliev emphasized that the future anticorruption law can instill intolerance to corruption if its implementation is supported by all institutions. In this sense the fight against corruption requires consensus, not compromise.

So far countering corruption has been based primarily on legislative changes, such as the division of the Supreme Judicial Council in two colleges - magisterial and prosecutorial. Mr Lozan Panov, Chairman of the Supreme Court of Cassation, stressed this is not enough. A greater balance between judicial governance and management is needed and political influence over the courts should not be allowed. Another serious problem is self-censorship applied by some judges because of a sense of loyalty or fear. Mr Panov described as positive anticorruption news the conviction of two magistrates (a judge and a prosecutor), but at the same time reminded that there are still no high-level politicians convicted for graft and corruption.

While drafting anticorruption measures and laws, politicians must rely on civil society’s independent research and identify the bottlenecks in the practice. Ms Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Science, pointed out that such is the case with the Law on Prevention of Corruption and Forfeiture of Criminal Assets. She stressed that the law is demanded and endorsed by Bulgarian citizens. Ms Kuneva expressed satisfaction with the support of all but one parliamentary represented political parties for the law, and the fact that the law stipulates that the Assets Forfeiture Commission will be part of the future independent body. Anticorruption measures should not stop with the implementation of this law, but should be complemented by the efforts of inspectorates and other institutions.

Ms Rumyana Bachvarova, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said that the findings of the Corruption Assessment Report are an accurate benchmark for the government's work. She thanked CSD for acknowledging the anticorruption efforts of the Ministry of Interior, including the curbing of cigarette smuggling, which brought in hundreds of millions of revenues to the treasury. Ms Bachvarova stressed that the fight against corruption cannot be limited to only one institution and called for greater cooperation and exchange of information. Ms Bachvarova noted that corruption sophistication grows faster than the institutions can catch up. Therefore, along with the anticorruption law that would solve some of the problems with corruption at the highest levels of power, there is also a need for developing e-governance, which can limit administrative corruption. The process of opening up public databases in Bulgaria is in its final phase. Currently there are 315-320 of them opened, with about 60-70 remaining, which has catapulted Bulgaria up in the international open government rankings.

Ms Sonya Naydenova, member of the Supreme Judicial Council, stated that the sense of impunity promotes corruption at all levels, but it is the court that bears the brunt of regaining the confidence of the people. Ms Naydenova pointed as basic prerequisites for achieving anticorruption success the existence of strong tools for investigations, good personnel policy, non-political interference and lack of concentration of power in one professional position or body. According to her there is ample room for increasing the efficiency of the public prosecution in filing more and better prepared cases for indictment to the Bulgarian courts. In this regard Ms Naydenova recommended a cost-benefit analysis of the process and an optimization by shifting the focus from small fines and administrative penalties to tackling and solving the most significant cases.

Ms Ekaterina Zaharieva, Minister of Justice put forward the need to strengthen the independence and accountability of the judiciary as the main anticorruption argument. She elaborated that the pivotal role in the fight against corruption belongs to the judiciary, impartial prosecutors, and investigators. Ms Zaharieva expressed hope that the new Judicial System Act, adopted at first reading, would soon grant the Inspectorate at the Supreme Judicial Council greater authority in the fight against corruption. In parallel with the legislative changes, judges and prosecutors must realize that they are servants of society and not of their institutions or let alone other interests. They must exercise self-control, overcome self-censorship, and cultivate resistance to any attempts at external influence.


Previous Anti-Corruption Policy Forums
Previous Corruption Assessment Reports

Media Coverage

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events-1788Validating Radicalisation Monitoring Tools in South East and Central Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/validating-radicalisation-monitoring-tools-in-south-east-and-central-europe/Countering radicalisation that turns to terrorism has become an issue of particular concern for many European spcieties. Both Islamist and right wing radicalization have seen resurgence in recent years leading to violent attacks on European soil. In this context the early detection of radicalization processes and the understanding of the root causes and factors that trigger them becomes ever more important so that early prevention is enacted.Countering radicalisation that turns to terrorism has become an issue of particular concern for many European spcieties. Both Islamist and right wing radicalization have seen resurgence in recent years leading to violent attacks on European soil. In this context the early detection of radicalization processes and the understanding of the root causes and factors that trigger them becomes ever more important so that early prevention is enacted.

On 28th of June 2016 the Center for the Study of Democracy held an expert workshop on the validation of radicalisation monitoring tools in South East and Central Europe. The meeting was attended by Dia Anagnostou and Dimitris Scleparis from ELIAMEP Greece, Libor Stejskal and Pavel Mička from CUNI-SBP, Charles University, the Czech Republic and Mila Mancheva and Rositsa Dzhekova, from Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria.

In her opening speech, Dr Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program at the CSD, emphasized on the importance of discussing the results from validation studies of proposed monitoring instruments and risk indicators, conducted in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece in order to finalise a comprehensive Radicalisation Monitoring Tool in the fields of right wing and Islamist radicalisation.

Mr. Libor Stejskal of CUNI, Charles University, and Mr Dimitis Scleparis of ELIAMEP presented the results from validating the Situation Analysis indicators on right-wing radicalisation that were conducted respectively in the Czech Republic and in Greece. Libor Stejskal presented some gaps identified in the annual situation assessment reports on extremism produced by the authorities in the Czech Republic. These include the lack of coherence between police and judicial data on extremist crimes and registration time delays leading to the appearance in statistics of one and the same crime with a different date; and the need for more rigorous regional analysis of the crime data collected by authorities. Dimitris Scleparis presented the key findings of a pilot situation assessment in Greece based on data collected by Greek authorities. Most of the hate crimes in Greece are registered in Athens and Thessaloniki and the primary bias motives are based on national or ethnic origin, or on colour. In addition, more than half of the hate crime cases are cleared by the Hellenic Police and most attacks are conducted by groups, and not by a single perpetrator.

In the following session Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program at CSD and Pavel Mička from CUNI-SBP shared findings from testing risk assessment indicators among first-line officers in the field of Islamist radicalisation. In Bulgaria there is limited understanding of radicalisation-related risk factors among police on the ground with the issue being considered a sensitive topic falling within the domain of intelligence services. In this light Ms Dzhekova suggested that the effective application of the risk assessment by first line officers requires an official commitment from the Ministry of Interior at central level. Monitoring risk indicators by police needs to be mandated officially through an institutionalized procedure and clear instructions need to be provided to frontline officers. She also stressed that a clear distinction must be drawn (and communicated to stakeholders) between intelligence objectives and monitoring of early warning signs by police for the purposes of prevention work. Her final recommendations included the need to conduct training of police staff prior to monitoring, as well as to develop cooperation between police and social services and other stakeholders. Pavel Mička of CUNI-SBP shared that the conclusions relevant for the Czech Republic were similar to those for Bulgaria. In light of the small Muslim community in the country Mr Mička stressed that besides first line officers other parts of the security system such as intelligence services, immigration office, foreign police, as well as NGO’s have to be more active in the field.

With regard to validating the qualitative assessment of risk indicators in the field of Islamist radicalisation, Dia Anagnostou of ELIAMEP stated that in light of the lack of registered manifestations of home grown Islamist radicalisation in Greece, many of the model indicators for Islamic radicalisation appear irrelevant to the Greek context and those that are relevant need careful explanation. Mila Mancheva of CSD shared the opinion that specific risk indicators can be tested and discussed only with regard to a specific risk community or group. She put under discussion a set of indicators selected based on field work in a specific Salafi Roma community in Bulgaria. The discussion concluded by reaching the agreement that distinction is to be made between indicators of root causes and of manifestations (symptoms) of radicalisation to be structured along micro (individual) and meso (group and community) level.






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events-1782Strengthening Resilience to Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/strengthening-resilience-to-corruption-and-state-capture-in-southeast-europe/The past year has vividly exposed governance vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe and how they threaten to undermine the region’s European perspective. The migration crisis, the economic stagnation, and the Russia-EU geopolitical stand-off have shown the need to reinvigorate the European Union’s engagement with the region. A critical part of this engagement remains the need to reduce corruption and state-capture vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe, in particular in the energy sector. The past year has vividly exposed governance vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe and how they threaten to undermine the region’s European perspective. The migration crisis, the economic stagnation, and the Russia-EU geopolitical stand-off have shown the need to reinvigorate the European Union’s engagement with the region. A critical part of this engagement remains the need to reduce corruption and state-capture vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe, in particular in the energy sector. At a policy workshop on 14 June 2016, http://seldi.net/SELDI, the largest anti-corruption coalition of civil society organizations in the region, coordinated by CSD, presented to the policy community in Brussels the results of its 2016 Corruption Monitoring System in SEE and its ideas for counter-measures.

The participants underlined that having good laws and institutions are good first steps, however they need to be accompanied by political will and change of mentality. The countries from Southeast Europe need to focus not only on the fight against corruption, but also on making institutions efficient, as recommended by Mr. Andrey Kovatchev, Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Foreign Affairs. It is important to create a new generation that is educated in democratic values. Anti-corruption education is underestimated and should start at the school level. People should not believe the populistic propaganda, which makes the EU integration process even slower, as was seen in the case of Macedonia.  It is encouraging that most people from the region see corruption as a problem and still recognize the need for EU support, despite the delay in EU enlargement. Furthermore, Mr. Boris Divjak, Director, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Bergen maintained that the EU accession process is key to removing the county-level monopolies, increasing economic prosperity, and lowering administrative barriers to free trade and business.

The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), as well as the new approach of opening chapters 23 and 24 earlier in accession negotiations have the potential to push the necessary long-term reforms, beyond the term of a single government. Countries need to have sustainable and effective anti-corruption mechanisms that are systematically used to expose illegal wealth. However, countries have recently started to embrace soft preventive tools, and effective enforcement is missing, according to Ms Sabine Zwaenepoel, Chapter Coordinator, Accession negotiations to the EU, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission.

Independent civil society, autonomous from government, private interests or radical movements, could have a central role in monitoring reforms and applying political pressure for change. Additional, strong drivers of reform can present cross-border and regional coalition building, and apply best practices, external expertise and views from lawyers, economists and sociologists. Hence, civil society organizations (CSOs) should identify and carefully select their allies among the most efficient government institutions, media and businesses. They should also use online social tools to achieve long-term advocacy and impact, and demand access to public data that is managed and available in electronic form. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations is contributing to the creation of an environment for transparent governmental funding of CSOs, which does not suffer from burdensome procedures. However, further efforts are necessary in ensuring that the CSOs really represent the needs of the society. They need to establish honest relations with governments, instead of being seen as critics or enemies. Recent events show that going to the streets in protest does not provide real solutions, until the CSOs or institutions offer detailed reform mechanisms, based on reintroducing accountability. Shortcut solutions are often characterized by populism, and it should be clear that reforms take time - changing laws and creating new, abuse-proof procedures and regulations. This systemic change can only be achieved if the nature of corruption and state capture is understood as a complex and often transnational phenomenon.

Anti-corruption agencies need sufficient power, financing and staff, as well as true independence, according to Mr. Julien Mousnier, Deputy Head, Citizens and Security Unit, Policy Co-ordination Directorate, Secretariat General, European Commission. Institutions such as the Special Public Prosecutors should be using all legal mechanisms available to them to determine which individuals unlawfully gained assets, and to return these assets to the people. However, in cases such as Macedonia, the work of the Special Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Macedonia, Ms. Katica Janeva, is hindered by the refusal of cooperation and access to information from other public bodies. As highlighted by Ms. Milica Bozanic, Assistant Director for International Cooperation at the Serbian Anti-Corruption Agency, anti-corruption plans and strategies do not truly drive or guarantee results of anti-corruption reforms. All institutions should have the necessary political will in order to achieve the desired change, with a key focus on tackling high-level corruption and ensuring whistleblower protection. Unfortunately, political appointments and promotion systems exist, including in the institutions that should fight corruption.

State capture channels exist in natural monopolies, such as in the energy sector. Of particular concern are the energy security challenges for SEE: excessive dependence on energy imports; reliance on a limited number of energy suppliers; high energy poverty levels; unsustainable energy intensity and demand; and persistent energy governance and corruption risks. The corporate governance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is characterized by political meddling in the day-to-day operations; non-transparent staffing procedures; prevalent political affiliations; conflicts of interest; and limited management transparency and accountability. CSOs and governments should look for several red flags: unfavorable financial indicators of SOEs, debts, and public procurements that prioritize a single company, especially in the construction of sometimes unnecessary infrastructure. The speakers recommended several key energy security and diversification solutions: improving gas interconnectors, reduction of the level of monopolization, independence of the regulatory authorities, and implementing the Third Energy Package.

















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events-1776Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2016https://csd.bg/events/event/bulgarias-international-competitiveness-2016/The Center for the Study of Democracy presented the results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2016. In 2016, Bulgaria ranks 50th out of 61 economies, while in 2015 it ranked 55th. On 30 May 2016 The Center for the Study of Democracy presented the results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2016. In 2016, Bulgaria ranks 50th out of 61 economies, while in 2015 it ranked 55th.

The profile of the Bulgarian competitiveness for 2016 shows detachment from the bottom, after nearly five years of stagnation. In 2016, Bulgaria ranks 50th out of 61 economies, which is an improvement of five places compared to 2015. The Bulgarian economy however remains among the most uncompetitive in Europe, with only Greece, Croatia and Ukraine having lower scores.


Previous events

Public Discussion: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2015
Public Discussion: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2014
Public Discussion: Bulgaria's International Competitiveness 2013
Press Conference: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2012

 

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events-1778Countering extortion racketeering: the European experiencehttps://csd.bg/events/event/countering-extortion-racketeering-the-european-experience/Classic extortion racketeering was widespread in Bulgaria in the 90s of last century, but in the last fifteen years gradually declined and is not the big organized crime threat that it used to be. However, new forms of extortion emerged and gained momentum - different from those of the recent past, but in no case less dangerous or harmful.Classic extortion racketeering was widespread in Bulgaria in the 90s of last century, but in the last fifteen years gradually declined and is not the big organized crime threat that it used to be. However, new forms of extortion emerged and gained momentum - different from those of the recent past, but in no case less dangerous or harmful. These new forms include systematic practices of organized extortion by public officials and persons holding managerial positions in the private businesses. A round table dedicated to the issue of extortion racketeering and the ways of tackling this criminal phenomenon was organized by the Center for Study of Democracy and took place on May 19, 2016. The roundtable was attended by representatives of the following institutions: the research centre Transcrime of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan, the Italian police, the Prosecutor's office of the Italian Republic, the Appellate Specialized Prosecution Office of Bulgaria, Directorate General for Combating Organized Crime, the National Police and the AFCOS Directorate of the Interior Ministry, the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Tourism.

In his opening speech, Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, emphasized the importance of the topic in discussion. New forms of racketeering, including the extortion by public officials, which experts of the Center defined as different from traditional sporadic forms of corruption, are extremely dangerous and require both a timely diagnosis and systematic countermeasures.

Dr. Atanas Rusev, Senior Аnalyst, and Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow of the Security Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the results of a study on the practices of extortion racketeering in the agricultural and the hospitality sector in Bulgaria, which focused on the risk and vulnerability factors in both sectors. Mr. Tihomir Bezlov made a historical overview of organized crime in Bulgaria and substantiated the alleged decline of classical forms of extortion racketeering. Dr. Atanas Rusev analyzed the new forms of extortion in agriculture. The main enabling factors for these practices, which were outlined, were the considerable imbalance in land use and ownership, the regulatory framework for granting farm subsidies, the lack of viable associations of the small farmers, local corruption and others. Mr. Tihomir Bezlov presented the main forms of extortion in the hospitality sector. The main vulnerabilities related to extortion in this sector are also rooted in the existence of a large grey sector, the traditional presence of criminal structures, and the low capacity and high levels of corruption in the administration.

Prof. Stefano Becucci from the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the Catholic University of Milan, and Lorella Garofalo, research fellow in Transcrime, spoke about the Italian experience on the issues of extortion and organized crime. Prof. Becucci made a historical overview of the main criminal activities of the main mafia organisations in Italy and the mechanisms of their formation and activity. Ms. Garofalo presented a current picture of organized crime in Italy - national mafia-type organisations that use extortion racketeering to control territory and foreign organized crime groups from Eastern Europe and the Far East (China) that practice extortion against civilians and businesses within their ethnic communities. Data on the rates of extortions against citizens and business was presented, as well as how usually victims react to extortion demands. The Mafia’s activities in different regions of Italy varies, maintaining traditionally high presence in regions of South Italy.

Dr. Giovanni Giudicce, Police Director, Agrigento, Sicily, spoke about the role of the Italian police in investigations carried out to counter extortion racketeering. Particularly important is the thorough knowledge by the police of all the details of the structure, local characteristics and methods of mafia organizations. Attitudes and behaviour of victims were identified as one of the most important factors for a successful fight against the Mafia. In this regard, the measures, which the Italian state and criminal justice institutions implement to encourage victims to testify were outlined. He particularly outlined the role of measures such as the program for witness protection and the financial compensation for damages incurred by the victims. The attitude of the society is also important and in this regard Dr. Giudicce pointed out the experience of anti-racket civil society organisations and business associations who effectively oppose the actions of mafia structures.

Dr. Giovanbattista Tona, a magistrate at the Court of Appeal in Caltanissetta, Sicily, and advisor to the parliamentary “Antimafia” committee, introduced participants to the provisions of Italian law regarding extortion racketeering. Italian laws provide for extremely harsh criminal sanctions, in particular in relation to extortion racketeering. The activity of the Italian judicial system is based on the understanding that the mafia groups are dynamically developing organisations that continuously adapt to the changes in society and the evolution of internal relations between members. In this way the forms of “participation” can vary and even coincide with the usual explanations for people's daily lives, which requires flexibility in the definition and implementation of the law.

Edi Oprea, Prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), Romania, presented some aspects of the work of the directorate. Mr. Oprea presented to the participants a practical case in which a local criminal group has created a system for extortion of foreign businessmen.

Nikolay Naydenov, Deputy Chair at the Appellate Specialized Prosecution Office, Bulgaria, praised the content and conclusions and proposals of the report of the Center for the Study of Democracy. His speech highlighted the role of citizens and the public to effectively counter the acts of extortion by officials in both the state and the municipal administration.



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events-1780Roma integration across the Danube: Best practices and social entrepreneurship models exchange between Romania and Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/roma-integration-across-the-danube-best-practices-and-social-entrepreneurship-models-exchange-betwe/After the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, Roma communities in these countries turned out to be disproportionately affected by the processes of economic and social changes that have undergone and undergo the national societies. After the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, Roma communities in these countries turned out to be disproportionately affected by the processes of economic and social changes that have undergone and undergo the national societies. Despite the abundance of targeting Roma policies at European, national and local level, the results of the recently finalized Decade of Roma Inclusion points too weak results or even negative changes in virtually all major areas : from education and early childhood development through the general welfare of communities to prevailing social attitudes and the state of the fundamental rights. Increasingly becomes clear the need to apply new approaches and flexible policies that lead to tangible results for specific communities within a foreseeable time span.

On 18-19 May 2016 in the city of Kavarna, the Romanian Centre for European Policies, Romano Boutique and the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a workshop under the initiative Roma integration across the Danube: Best practices and social entrepreneurship models exchange between Romania and Bulgaria. The main objective of the event was the exchange of experience between representatives of the civil society, local authorities and Roma entrepreneurs from the Danube regions of the two countries. It was attended by representatives from municipalities Bucharest, Dambovitsa and Craiova from the Romanian side and Kavarna, Lom and Razgrad - from the Bulgarian side.

The first day of the meeting was devoted to sharing the unique experience of Kavarna in the integration of Roma communities. Mr. Martin Bashev, former Head of "Integration of Minorities" Department of Kavarna Municipality in four consecutive mandates, explained the general philosophy of ongoing policies based on the principle of equality between ethnic groups; the approach relying primarily on the active involvement of the community in solving issues that affect them; and the main achievements in terms of political representation, infrastructure, housing, education and employment. After numerous questions of the participants to Mr. Bashev a field visit was organized to "Hadji Dimitar" quarter in Kavarna.


After the visit, Ms. Slavyanka Ivanova, senior researcher at the Sociological program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main results of the study Socio-Economic Effects of Public Investments for Roma Inclusion in Kavarna, conducted by the Center in 2015.

During the second day Ms. Oana Toyu from Romano Boutique presented implemented and ongoing micro-projects in the field of social entrepreneurship. The organization seeks representatives of Roma communities in Romania who master a variety of traditional Roma crafts, assisting them to rebuild their business and find a market for their products. Thereby Romano Boutique fulfills several key objectives using the resources of the Roma communities themselves: restoration of traditional crafts as part of the Roma cultural heritage and attracting young people in the communities to acquire them; helping craftsmen in providing a decent living for themselves and their families; and last but not least, countering widespread public perceptions of Roma as uneducated and lazy people who rely solely on the care of the society.

After examining the various specific models of social entrepreneurship, the participants from both countries discussed in small groups and worked out ideas for possible similar projects in their municipalities. Ms. Alexandra Toderita by the Romanian Center for European Policies presented funding opportunities with EU funds municipalities from the Danube regions could benefit from for projects aimed at Roma integration.







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events-1772Media and Political Influenceshttps://csd.bg/events/event/media-and-political-influences/Тhe political instrumentalization of media in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe is visible in a number of ways. This is the key conclusion reached at the conference under the topic of ‘Media and Political Influences’, co-organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy and Bulgaria’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The event was attended by the Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Netherlands and of the Czech Republic to Bulgaria, representatives from the Council of Europe and national state institutions, NGOs, as well as researchers and journalists. Тhe political instrumentalization of media in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe is visible in a number of ways. This is the key conclusion reached at the conference under the topic of ‘Media and Political Influences’, co-organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy and Bulgaria’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 16 May 2016. The event was attended by the Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Netherlands and of the Czech Republic to Bulgaria, representatives from the Council of Europe and national state institutions, NGOs, as well as researchers and journalists.

Dr Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, emphasized that media, including social media, are used increasingly in very cold and professional way to influence political process and there is a need for deeper understanding of these influences.

Ambassador Tom van Oorschot (the Netherlands is currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU) shared a concern about the global dimensions of media dependence from external forces, and highlighted the principle of free and impartial journalism as a cornerstone of healthy democracies not just in Europe, but across the world.

Mr Rumen Alexandrov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, identified the protection of media from external influences as one of the priorities of the Bulgarian chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

Mr Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented an overview of the recent state of the media environment in Bulgaria in terms of ownership, revenue streams, and changes in the media market. Due to the shrinking advertising budgets (aggravated to a large extent by the global financial crisis), media are subject to increased vulnerability to political and business pressures. One of the major threats for media’s independence are the ‘political investments’ in print and TV, as well as the PR contracts with government agencies and with large business groups. Mr. Bezlov emphasized that tight control of media content in private media leaves very limited space for critical coverage and investigative journalism. Grounds for optimism can be seen in the growing importance of social networks as an alternative media. They present a unique chance for independent journalists to create media content and to get paid (through sharing a portion of the revenues generated by social networks), thus bypassing the traditional media outlets.

Dr Malgorzata Pek, Programme Officer in the Council of Europe’s Media and Internet Division, talked about the Council of Europe standards with regards to ensuring a pluralist media landscape, diversity of media content, inclusiveness in public service media, as well as media coverage of election campaigns. Drawing upon different policies and the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, she underscored the need for more work in the area of developing specific guidelines and standard-setting proposals on the transparency of media ownership and internal editorial policies.

Dr Lyubomir Kutin, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the findings of two case studies on the (in)dependence of Bulgarian regional media and the coverage of local elections. The lack of independent local media is a trend with devastating implications for the regions of Bulgaria. The absence of critical/high-quality journalism affects not only the local public institutions; regional economic activity is also hindered by the void of independent media voices. The regional media do not disclose the sources of their income and public funding, especially during election periods. However, content analysis of the elections coverage indicates bias in favour of incumbent mayors and lack of critical or analytical publications. The role of regional media has been downgraded to a channel where various political groups can publish their press releases.

Prof. Katharine Sarikakis, Professor of Media Industries, Media Organisation and Media Governance at the Department of Communication in the University of Vienna, highlighted the role of the state in contributing to the shrinking of public communicative spaces and the erosion of confidence in media institutions in general, but especially when it comes to public broadcasting. By (re-)exerting control over public service media in Europe, the state has posed one of the key challenges to democratic development as it has been involved in different strategies for political engineering and interference with the functioning of public media. The risk to public service media is not to be underestimated, given that it sets the standards for employment, impartial debate, the flourishing of diversity and informed citizenry. Among the key threats for the autonomy and survival of effective public media, Prof Sarikakis listed the growing public budgets deficits in many countries across Europe (leading to shrinking financial contributions), as well as the intense administrative control over such types of public service journalism.

Mr Christian Spahr, Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Media Program for South East Europe, provided an overview of the media environment in the region. Media in the region have become increasingly consolidated with fewer companies owned by a smaller group of people, most commonly members of the political elite or individual oligarchs. One of the intangible effects of the economic insecurity of media in Bulgaria and SEE has been the adoption of a form of self-censorship by journalists and editors. Indirect political control over the media is established inter alia through public advertising. The lack of solidarity within the journalist profession makes media particularly vulnerable to external pressure.

In the discussions that followed the presentations Mr. Ilian Vasilev, former ambassador to Russia, commented that in the new economy media outlets as a rule not generate profits but they are valued for their influence and the market position that they can sustain.

Mr Ivo Indjov (Institute of Modern Politics) reminded that not only private media but also the public TV, BNT, has been subject of external influence, for instance during the street protests against the Oresharski government (continuing to cover the protests long after they had lost their momentum).

A number of recommendations and specific approaches for change in the media environment were suggested: greater accountability of media funds, enforced transparency of ownership, enhanced public debate, and further media literacy education among citizens and professionals.







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events-1768Civic Participation in Support of Vulnerable Groupshttps://csd.bg/events/event/civic-participation-in-support-of-vulnerable-groups/There are numerous interrelations between the different vulnerable groups, and the state and NGOs are called upon to cooperate constructively in improving their situation. This is the conclusion reached at the roundtable dedicated to the civic participation in support of vulnerable communities, organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The event was attended by representatives of state institutions, magistrates, lawyers, and NGOs working with prisoners, vulnerable groups of foreigners, and victims of trafficking and domestic violence.There are numerous interrelations between the different vulnerable groups, and the state and NGOs are called upon to cooperate constructively in improving their situation. This is the conclusion reached at the roundtable dedicated to the civic participation in support of vulnerable communities, organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 21 April 2016. The event was attended by representatives of state institutions, magistrates, lawyers, and NGOs working with prisoners, vulnerable groups of foreigners, and victims of trafficking and domestic violence.

Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Law Program, summed up the research activities conducted under the initiative to the closing of which the roundtable was dedicated – to describe the profile of the selected vulnerable groups, and to analyse the mechanisms and problems in the interaction between state institutions and NGOs in improving their situation. She pointed out that the Concept Note on More Effective Civic Participation in Support of Vulnerable Groups which marks the end of the initiative contains findings and conclusions about specific sectoral reforms and possible ways to improve the NGO-state interaction. The Concept Note was prepared in close cooperation with relevant state authorities and NGOs.

Senior Commissioner Dr Blagorodna Makeva, Deputy Director of Directorate General ‘National Police’ of the Ministry of the Interior, focused her presentation on the relationships between the work of civil society with vulnerable groups, and the functions and initiatives of the Ministry of the Interior and its Permanent Commission on Human Rights and Police Ethics. Among the main conclusions of the Center’s Concept Note, for which she expressed support were the need for collecting data according to common criteria and the training of representatives of state institutions about the vulnerabilities of the different communities, with special attention given to children as a typical vulnerable group. Commissioner Makeva outlined the Ministry of the Interior’s plans to establish a Public Council with the Permanent Commission, and its efforts to ensure civil monitoring of the places of detention under the Ministry’s control.

According to Ms Denitsa Sacheva, expert at ‘Intelday’ Foundation, the cooperation between institutions and NGOs is often based on personal relations rather than on established procedures. She recalled civil society’s contribution to dealing with the recent refugee crisis, and the problems volunteers faced in their relations with state institutions. Ms Sacheva stressed the need for preserving the experience gained, for exchanging information, competent authorities and NGOs’ mutual empowerment, and for diversified funding. In her view, the funding allocation criteria should be revised and funding should be distributed in the form of grants rather than through public procurement because of the dynamics of working with vulnerable groups.

In his presentation, Mr Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Law Program, described the upcoming changes in the Law on Execution of Penalties and Detention in Custody and other legislation relating to the conditions in Bulgarian prisons drafted as a result of the European Court of Human Rights’ pilot decision Neshkov and others v Bulgaria. Amendments have been planned concerning the abolition of the Commissions for the Execution of Penalties; the initial distribution and transfer of prisoners; changing the regime of serving the sentence; the parole; as well as the preventive and compensatory remedy for torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In addition, Mr Markov talked about the new opportunities for NGOs to offer legal protection to prisoners in parole proceedings, as well as the role that the legislative proposals would give NGOs in checking the circumstances of alleged violations of the prohibition of torture.

Ms Alexandra Popova, Expert ‘Fundraising and Communications’ at the Council of Refugee Women in Bulgaria, presented the typical problems encountered by foreigners seeking international protection in Bulgaria. These include inadequate level of integration support; language barriers; and difficulties in finding social workers and other professionals to work with this vulnerable group. Ms Popova pointed out that migrants are often victims of violence, including within their family, and recalled the importance of the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) for this vulnerable group. She outlined the difficulties in raising funds through projects and through fundraising campaigns.

Ms Daniela Alexandrova, judge at the Sofia Regional Court, described the situation of victims of crime, and in particular victims of trafficking in criminal proceedings, and the assistance and financial compensation provided under Bulgarian law. In her view, the Bulgarian legal framework is in compliance with EU standards in terms of the concept of victim of crime, the procedural rights, and victim and witness protection measures.

Ms Dilyana Markova, expert ‘International Programmes and Advocacy’ at the ‘Animus Association’ Foundation, focused her presentation on the need for urgent ratification of the Istanbul Convention. She recalled the alarming statistics on the incidence of domestic violence and the decisions of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the European Court of Human Rights against Bulgaria, which identified a number of weaknesses in the Bulgarian legislation and institutional practice in this area. Ms Markova outlined the basics of the Convention and criticised the insufficiency of crisis centers for victims of domestic violence, and the cases in which the latter are directed to mediation with the perpetrator despite the explicit ban on such practice at international level.

Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Law Program, presented the final version of the Concept Note on More Effective Civic Participation in Support of Vulnerable Groups that was distributed at the event, including the common paths to cooperation and the sectoral reforms, which the document proposes. She put emphasis on the participation of NGOs in the drafting of legislation and policies, and on the development of comprehensive coordination tools for working with each of the vulnerable groups.

In the following discussion Mr Svetoslav Nikolov from the Foundation for Assisting Victims of Crime and Combating Corruption, talked about the activities of the Ministry of Justice Working Group currently preparing amendments transposing EU legal acts relating to victims of crime into Bulgarian legislation. Ms Desislava Ivanova, Senior Expert at the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, outlined the work of the Permanent Working Group with the Commission, which includes NGO representatives as a good practice for cooperation. In addition, she highlighted the institution’s efforts to strengthen the National Mechanism for Referral and Support for Victims of Trafficking at the normative level, and to develop a strategy and a unified database in the field of combating trafficking in humans. Ms Radostina Pavlova, 'Voice in Bulgaria’ Legal Aid Centre, described the recent legislative changes concerning subsequent applications for international protection, and returns under the Dublin Regulation and the readmission agreements as a factor contributing towards the imminent increase in the number of undocumented migrants in Bulgaria. Ms Natasha Dobreva, lawyer from the Sofia Bar Association, addressed the issue of the use of ‘blue rooms’ for interrogating juvenile witnesses, victims of crimes and female victims of violence.




Concept for more effective civic participation in support of vulnerable groups

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events-1764Punishment versus treatment: the situation of drug users in prisonhttps://csd.bg/events/event/punishment-versus-treatment-the-situation-of-drug-users-in-prison/Bulgaria has no clear and consistent state policy on drug-using offenders. This is the main conclusion of the round table on the situation of drug users in prison organised by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The event, which aimed to present the Norwegian experience of working with drug users in prison, was attended by officials from the Directorate General &quot;Execution of Penalties&quot;, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, academics and NGOs.Bulgaria has no clear and consistent state policy on drug-using offenders. This is the main conclusion of the round table on the situation of drug users in prison organised on 7 April 2016 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The event, which aimed to present the Norwegian experience of working with drug users in prison, was attended by officials from the Directorate General "Execution of Penalties", prosecutors, judges, lawyers, academics and NGOs.

According to Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, a big part of the persons serving a custodial sentence are drug users or used drugs before entering prison. This requires the application of a set of measures for working with these individuals both during their stay in prison and after their release.

The Norwegian experience, as demonstrated by the presentation of Professor Hedda Giertsen of the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo (Norway), differs substantially from the practice in Bulgaria. Drug-related crimes are among the most common in Norway. Only in 2014 the country registered more than 16 000 cases of such crimes. As in Bulgaria, the possession of drugs is a crime in Norway, but unlike trafficking and trade, it is not regulated in the Criminal Code and the penalties for it are much fewer and usually do not include imprisonment. According to Prof. Giertsen, there are five basic principles which underpin the Norwegian criminal policy. These are reduced penalties (75% of those convicted in Norway leave prison after less than three months); motivation and preparation instead of treatment; equality between inmates and the rest of the population with regard to all rights not limited by the sentence; equal quality of services (health, education, etc.) provided inside and outside the prisons; and uninterrupted relationship of the convicted with society. Norwegian prisons apply various rehabilitation measures with regard to drug users in prison. They are all based on the principle of voluntariness, and in exchange for their participation, prisoners receive certain incentives such as longer holidays, more visits and even the possibility to serve the last part of their sentence in a specialised institution outside prison. As for measures aiming to limit the damage of drug use, Prof. Giertsen noted that the only such measure in Norwegian prisons is replacement therapy. In conclusion, she stressed that in order to be adequate, public policy should primarily answer the question of what drug use constitutes - crime, disease or a social problem.

In Bulgaria the number of convicted persons with drug dependency is on the increase, explained Marieta Tzolova, chief expert at Unit "Social Activities" of Directorate General "Execution of Penalties" at the Ministry of Justice. The most commonly used methods for smuggling drugs into prisons are through hiding them in various items (food, clothing, equipment) when visiting or returning to prison (after leave or work on external sites), through correspondence, and sometimes - through prison staff. Ms Tzolova pointed out that in 2015 Bulgarian prisons registered 150 cases of seized drugs. The prison administration makes efforts to prevent the spread of drugs and to work with targeted groups of inmates. A few of the preventive measures Ms Tzolova mentioned are carrying out searches and inspections, use of scanners and sniffer dogs, training of employees and testing of inmates. Regarding the targeted work with convicts, some of the latter are hospitalised for treatment in the prison hospital in Lovech, voluntarily or against their will, while the rest are placed under the supervision of a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker. The work with drug users is individual and in groups, and the most commonly applied programme is a short-term harm reduction programme. Moreover, Marieta Tzolova added that Directorate General "Execution of Penalties" is open to cooperation with NGOs and places of imprisonment currently implement several NGO projects targeting drug users.

Prosecutor Plamen Pachev of the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation mentioned that particular measures are needed to encourage drug users in prison to be actively involved in drug addiction countering programmes. He added that preventing the smuggling of drugs in prison is just as important as motivating prisoners to undergo treatment voluntarily. The experience of the Prosecutor’s Office shows that drug users most commonly perpetrate property crimes in order to obtain money for drugs, and crimes against the person when they are under the influence of drugs. Furthermore, Mr Pachev noted that there has been an increase in road transport offences committed after drug use in recent years. He drew attention to the shortage of qualified staff able to work with drug-dependent persons in prison.

Anna Lyubenova of the "Initiative for Health" Foundation held that there are few examples of good practice with regard to cooperation between places of detention and NGOs in relation to drug users. The Foundation works with drug users in Sofia Prison since 2005. Over the past two years it has developed and implemented a model for psychosocial rehabilitation in the closed-type prison hostel in Kremikovtsi where more than 90 drug-dependent prisoners have received long-term professional psychological help. Ms Lyubenova added that the results are positive for most of those who have undergone the programme. 58 prisoners have gone before the Committee for the Implementation of Penalties for regime change, 31 have been moved to an open-type hostel, and 3 have been released on parole. NGOs have the capacity to offer services that are not available in prisons and to significantly improve the situation of drug users. However, studies of the "Initiative for Health" Foundation show that there is still mutual unfamiliarity and mistrust between the prison administrations and the third sector. In addition, the sustainability of NGO activities remains a major problem.

Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst at the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, argued that a set of reforms are required to improve the penal policy in relation to drug users. The necessary measures include changes in the type and severity of the penalties provided under the Criminal Code, the unification of jurisprudence on drugs, as well as practical measures aimed at improving the situation of drug users in prisons based on the principle that prisoners should have equal access to treatment and programmes with drug users who are not imprisoned.

The placement in psychiatric institutions is not effective, explained Violeta Bogdanova, Director of the "Guidance and Coordination of Drug Demand Reduction Activities" Directorate at the National Addiction Centre. In her view, hospitalisation should be avoided and therapy should instead be conducted in psychosocial centres. The shortage of qualified staff, including psychiatrists, is a problem throughout the country, not just in places of deprivation of liberty, added Ms Bogdanova.

According to Assoc. Prof. Georgi Mitov, Deputy Dean of the Law Faculty of Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski ", most of the discussed measures are indeed necessary, but they are unlikely to be met with political and public support, as public attitudes in Bulgaria are predominantly repressive. He added that financial sanctions are ineffective in most cases since most drug users cannot afford to pay them, and noted that very often drug users become distributors precisely because they do not have sufficient money to purchase drugs.

The main unresolved problems that were identified in the discussion were the lack of accurate statistics on drug users in prison, the inability to serve part of the sentence in an institution for drug users outside prison, and the lack of mechanisms to encourage inmates undergoing therapy to continue the treatment after their release.









Publication 'Drug Users in Prison: Norway's Experience and Bulgaria's Challenges'


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events-1766Bulgaria and UNGASS 2016https://csd.bg/events/event/bulgaria-and-ungass-2016/On 5 April 2016, Initiative for Health Foundation organised a public discussion on Bulgaria’s and the global drug policy in the framework of the forthcoming UN General Assembly’s special session on the world drug problem (UNGASS) from 19 to 21 April 2016. The public discussion brought together representatives of state institutions and non-government organisations working with drug users.On 5 April 2016, Initiative for Health Foundation organised a public discussion on Bulgaria’s and the global drug policy in the framework of the forthcoming UN General Assembly’s special session on the world drug problem (UNGASS) from 19 to 21 April 2016. The public discussion brought together representatives of state institutions and non-government organisations working with drug users.
The Center for the Study of Democracy was represented by Maria Doichinova, analyst within the Center’s Law Program. The participants discussed Bulgaria’s position on the drug policy and country’s part in preparing the common European Union position on the global drug policy, as well as the problems in the national policy and practice on drug use.

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events-1762Improving the registration of non-profit legal entitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/improving-the-registration-of-non-profit-legal-entities/NGOs in Bulgaria are registered in more than 20 different registers, yet there is a lack of accessible, up-to-date and reliable information on their activities. This is one of the main conclusions of the Center for the Study of Democracy’s analysis dedicated to the reform of NGOs’ registration. The report was presented at the roundtable ‘Improving the registration of non-profit legal entities’ organised by the Center. The event was attended by representatives of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Justice, the Registry Agency, as well as NGOs, the IT sector and the media.NGOs in Bulgaria are registered in more than 20 different registers, yet there is a lack of accessible, up-to-date and reliable information on their activities. This is one of the main conclusions of the Center for the Study of Democracy’s analysis dedicated to the reform of NGOs’ registration. The report was presented at the roundtable ‘Improving the registration of non-profit legal entities’ organised by the Center on 24 March 2016. The event was attended by representatives of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Justice, the Registry Agency, as well as NGOs, the IT sector and the media.

In her opening remarks, the Director of the Legal Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Dr Maria Yordanova, noted that the organisation has worked actively to implement the reform in the registries system in the country for more than ten years and has made an important contribution to the creation of the Central Pledge Registry and the Central Commercial Register. Dr Yordanova added that the changes in the NGOs’ registration are just one of the stages of the registration reform, and noted that the complete reform is detailed in the Strategy for Establishing a Central Register of Legal Entities and an Electronic Registration Center of the Republic of Bulgaria adopted by the Government in 2005.

Missing information, outdated data and discrepancies between the recorded circumstances in the different registers are among the most significant shortcomings of the system, explained Mr Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst at the CSD Law Program. According to him, part of the existing registers are redundant and others in need of substantial improvement in order to be effective and to provide reliable information. The major changes that need to be undertaken include removing the obligation to submit the same documents in different registers, limiting the requirements to provide information so as to include only data that are not recorded in other registers, and minimising the cases in which presenting the organisation’s current status is required. Dimitar Markov also recommended amending the Law on Limiting Administrative Regulation and Administrative Control on Economic Activity in order to make it applicable to non-profit activities. A detailed analysis of the existing registers and proposals for legislative amendments can be found in the Center for the Study of Democracy’s new book 'The Legal Framework of Registers of Non-profit Organisations: Assessment and Proposals for Change’ presented at the roundtable.

Ms Elena Markova, the Executive Director of the Registry Agency, stated that the Agency is ready to assume the register of non-profit legal entities, as provided for in the amendments to the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities adopted by the Parliament at first reading. She specified that the successful launch of the new register requires an increase in the number of registration officers and clerks at the Agency, as well as additional training of the current staff. Ms Markova assured the audience that the Agency has the capacity to maintain the NGOs register and for this purpose will use the platform of the Commercial Register with minor adjustments reflecting the specifics of these organisations.

The forthcoming amendments to the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities should ensure a smooth transition from registering at the district courts to registration at the Registry Agency without this hindering neither the Agency’s nor the registered organisations’ activities, stressed the Program Director of the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Ms Nadya Shabani. She introduced the audience to the main points of the bill that has already been adopted at first reading. According to her, there are several issues that require special attention in order for the transition to the new register to proceed smoothly. They are linked to the existence of organisations with the same names, the registration of circumstances that have not been previously subject to entry (e.g. Executive board members), and the legal status of organisations whose public benefit status has been provisionally suspended. Ms Shabani confirmed the findings of the Centre for the Study of Democracy that many of the additional registrations of NGOs should be abolished and stressed that the achievements of the Bulgarian law allowing NGOs to carry out business activities should be maintained.

Currently, the registration of NGOs is slower and more expensive than the registration of commercial companies, said Dr Tony Dimov, Director of the Center for Regulatory Impact Assessment. According to him, the legislative changes submitted to Parliament are essential and their adoption should not be postponed in order not to delay the reform. He expressed his concern regarding the many proposals to the text of the bill introduced between the first and second reading, some of which deviate from the essence of the project to change the registration of NGOs from judicial to administrative.

The planned reform is financially supported through funds from the Operational Programmes, assured Dr Atanas Slavov, Advisor to the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister on Coalition Politics and Public Administration. He added that most of the proposals submitted between the first and the second reading of the bill were actually part of the original text but were dropped in the course of the inter-ministerial consultations that were held prior to the document’s submission to Parliament.

Ms Iliana Nikolova, Executive Director of the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation, expressed her concerns regarding some of the legislative proposals introduced between the first and the second reading of the draft, which threaten to impose illegitimate control over NGOs’ activities.

During the discussion the participants agreed on the need for continued reform. NGOs’ representatives expressed their willingness to cooperate with state institutions in preparing the necessary secondary legislation. Furthermore the discussion focused on the different deadlines for the new rules’ entry into force, as well as the need for the new and current employees of the Registry Agency to be trained by teams including representatives of NGOs and academia.





Publication 'The Legal Framework of Registers of Non-profit Organisations: Assessment and Proposals for Change’ (in Bulgarian)

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1760Civil Society in Support of Vulnerable Groupshttps://csd.bg/events/event/civil-society-in-support-of-vulnerable-groups/Victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons in need of international protection and those deprived of liberty are among the vulnerable groups in need of the support of the civic sector in their relationships with institutions. Their problems were at the forefront of the discussion at the working meeting ‘Civil Society in Support of Vulnerable Groups’, organized on 25 February 2016 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The main aim of the meeting was finalizing the concept on more effective participation of NGOs in the system of support of vulnerable groups, developed by CSD experts. Representatives of NGOs, involved in supporting the four vulnerable groups, took part in the event. Victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons in need of international protection and those deprived of liberty are among the vulnerable groups in need of the support of the civic sector in their relationships with institutions. Their problems were at the forefront of the discussion at the working meeting ‘Civil Society in Support of Vulnerable Groups’, organized on 25 February 2016 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. The main aim of the meeting was finalizing the concept on more effective participation of NGOs in the system of support of vulnerable groups, developed by CSD experts. Representatives of NGOs, involved in supporting the four vulnerable groups, took part in the event.

In her opening remarks, Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center, marked the highlights of the Center’s long years of work on the situation of all four vulnerable groups and the importance of the co-operation between institutions and NGOs in the improvement of their position.

Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center, pointed to the problematic areas in the communication between vulnerable communities and institutions, on which the research deliberates, and outlined the activities of the initiative already completed.
Ms Miriana Ilcheva further presented an extended draft concept on more effective participation of NGOs in the system of support of vulnerable groups. Co-ordination of efforts between institutions and NGOs on all levels, including project financing of organisations from the state budget, as well as better presence of civic structures in the process of preparing legislation and policy making, are suggested as general avenues for such participation. The concept also offers concrete sector reforms, among which an established mechanism for access of NGOs to prisons, participation of civil society in trainings of institutions on all levels, enhanced presence of the non-governmental sector in the reintegration of victims of trafficking. Among the new developments Ms Ilcheva deliberated upon were the efforts to update the National Referral Mechanism for victims of trafficking, as well as legislative changes and drafts, concerning public consultations, impact assessment of legislation and new hypotheses of access of NGOs to persons deprived of liberty and foreigners in need of international protection.

In the ensuing discussion Ms Slavyanka Ivanova, Senior Analyst with the Sociological Program of the Center, pointed to the weaknesses of project financing and the need for the state to support vulnerable groups via sustainable mechanisms. Ms Anna Bazelkova from the Center for Legal Aid Voice in Bulgaria also emphasized the necessity for state authorities to take responsibility in the area of integration and education of foreigners in need of international protection. Dr Maria Yordanova deliberated on the importance of international co-operation among institutions and NGOs.
Ms Aneta Moyanova from the Integra Association outlined the role of NGOs as mediators, especially in the education, social work with and reintegration of persons deprived of their liberty. Ms Vera Nikolova from CVS Bulgaria described the support which the draft law on volunteers gathers among the NGO sector and the slow progress of the draft.
Mr Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, appealed for sustainability of the co-operation between institutions and NGOs and gave an example from Spain, where much of the probation activities are outsourced to NGOs. Mr Markov stated the authorities need to quantify the resource needed for care to vulnerable groups and to identify the cases where this may be done by NGOs. Ms Slavyanka Ivanova also emphasized the need for financial assessments in the area of supporting vulnerable groups.

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events-177031st Annual Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposiumhttps://csd.bg/events/event/31st-annual-norris-and-margery-bendetson-epiic-international-symposium/At the invitation of the Institute for Global Leadership, Dr. Maria Yordanova – the Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Law program – participated in the 31st Annual Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium on “Europe in Turmoil” which was held at Tufts University from February 18-21, 2016.At the invitation of the Institute for Global Leadership, Dr. Maria Yordanova – the Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Law program – participated in the 31st Annual Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium on “Europe in Turmoil” which was held at Tufts University from February 18-21, 2016.

Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC), is an integrated, multidisciplinary program that was first introduced at Tufts in 1985. Through a range of innovative and intensive curricula and projects, EPIIC educates young people from all over the world on how to play an active role in their communities, whether at the local, national or global level.

The 2016 EPPIC International Symposium provided a platform for four days of debates and far-reaching discussions on issues critical to understanding the future of Europe, especially in light of the crises the continent is currently undergoing. Some of the issues that participants touched upon included Europe’s identity, its relationship with Russia, the future of NATO and the transatlantic partnership, the challenges presented by the migration crisis, political and economic integration and the ways in which they are influenced by religion and ethnicity, terrorism, collective memory as well as the very philosophical and humanistic principles underpinning the European project.

This year’s symposium hosted more than sixty practitioners, academics, policymakers and journalists. Among them were John Bowen, Professor of Anthropology at the Washington University St. Louis; Mario De Caro, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Roma Tre University; Jocelyne Cesari, Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion, Peace and Conflict Resolution at Georgetown’s Department of Government; William H. Hill, Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College in Washington, DC, and an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union; Karl Kaiser, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Senior Associate of the Program on Transatlantic Relations of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs; Uwe Kitzinger, the first British economist of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1951-1956 and in 1973-1975 and former cabinet adviser to Sir Christopher Soames, the first British vice president of the European Commission; Joachim Koops, Reseach Professor for European Foreign and Security Policy at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels; Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations and director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Oxford; Mitchell A. Orenstein, Professor of Central and East European politics at the University of Pennsylvania; Srdja Popovic who was one of the key organizers of Otpor!, the Serbian nonviolent resistance movement that brought down the Milosevic regime and a cofounder of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS); General David Julian Richards, Baron of Herstmonceux and a retired senior British Army officer who was formerly the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff; Viviene Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University and Founding Director of BU’s Center for the Study of Europe and Ambassador Friedrich Tanner, Senior Advisor/Liaison to the Swiss Chairmanship in the OSCE Office of the Secretary General.

The symposium was dedicated to the memory of Professor Stanley Hoffman and was in part supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It was also held in collaboration with the Council for European Studies at Columbia University, the Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University and the Student European Conference of the Fletcher School and Harvard’s Kennedy and Business Schools.

Dr. Maria Yordanova took part in the panel titled “Europe in the Global Order” where she delivered an Op-Ed on The Role of the EU in international cyberpolicy as part of the future global order. She also made a presentation on The Role of the EU in safeguarding fundamental rights and joined the discussion in a breakout session on “Europe and Human Rights” led by Erin Kelly, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University.

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events-1774Roma integration across the Danube: Best practices and social entrepreneurship models exchange between Romania and Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/roma-integration-across-the-danube-best-practices-and-social-entrepreneurship-models-exchange-betwe-1/With the vast majority of Roma population in Europe (80%) living in the Danube region, a framework for cooperation, share of best practices and knowledge is fundamental in promoting efficient Roma integration policies in the region. While Roma inclusion actions have been supported in the last years through some European funds, the effects remain limited, at least in the south of Romania. With the vast majority of Roma population in Europe (80%) living in the Danube region, a framework for cooperation, share of best practices and knowledge is fundamental in promoting efficient Roma integration policies in the region. While Roma inclusion actions have been supported in the last years through some European funds, the effects remain limited, at least in the south of Romania. While Romanian civil society has successfully implemented social economy initiatives (ex. Romano Boutique’s small Roma crafts co-operatives), municipalities are lagging behind in providing improved living standards to the Roma. In Bulgaria, on the other hand, Kavarna has become in recent years a model for its comprehensive approach to Roma integration. Nevertheless, social economy initiatives in the South of the Danube still do not reach a sufficient number of Roma communities.

Aiming to facilitate the reciprocally useful exchange of experience between municipalities, civil society and Roma entrepreneurs from Bulgaria and Romania, the Romanian Center for European Policies, RomanoButiq and the Center for the Study of Democracy launched on 1 February 2016 an initiative Roma integration across the Danube: Best practices and social entrepreneurship models exchange between Romania and Bulgaria. The initiative sets out to document the process and the findings, encourage common projects (also on the cross-border Romania-Bulgaria EU Programme) and disseminate the findings and approaches to impactful accessing EU and national funds for Roma in the Danube region.

The initiative’s activities will be implemented in 6 months and will concentrate on:
• Identification of the delegation comprised of 3 small municipalities’ representatives, civil society and Roma entrepreneurs from Romania and 2 from Bulgaria to take part in the best practice exchange visit in Kavarna.
• Drafting a report on Kavarna’s best practice model - the investments, and projects implemented, funds accessing by the municipality.
• Organizing a two day workshop in Kavarna for sharing best practices derived from the Kavarna experience on Roma integrations and successful Roma entrepreneurship models and experiences in Romania that could be replicated in Kavarna and the other Bulgarian municipalities.
• Drafting a follow-up report on best practices – administrative, entrepreneurial, cooperation possibilities, Roma integration financing opportunities for communities in the Danube space in Romania and Bulgaria.

The project directly targets public administration representatives, civil society and Roma entrepreneurs from six villages/small municipalities in Southern Romania and Northern Bulgaria. Indirectly, it will target more than 50 municipalities, NGOs working with Roma and Roma entrepreneurs in the Danube region.

The project is part of START – Danube Region Project Fund, part-financed by the European Union and the City of Vienna.

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events-1758Efficiency of Public Investments in Roma Communities at a Municipal Levelhttps://csd.bg/events/event/efficiency-of-public-investments-in-roma-communities-at-a-municipal-level/Roma inclusion is of strategic importance, yet the topic continues to suffer from lack of analysed data and clearly identified results and tendencies that can form the basis of policies in this area. Roma inclusion is of strategic importance, yet the topic continues to suffer from lack of analysed data and clearly identified results and tendencies that can form the basis of policies in this area. The methodology developed by the Centre for the study of democracy serves to overcome this deficit and presents data on the tangible and measurable effects of investments in Roma communities.

On 21 January 2016, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a public discussion on the efficiency of public investments in Roma communities at a municipal level aiming at creating a debate on the opportunities, challenges and best practices in investments in the Roma communities, as well as ways to increase their levels and effectiveness. The discussion was attended by representatives of local institutions and public administration, NGOs and Roma organisations.

The event was opened by Ms Milena Hristova, adviser on Ethnic and Demographic Issues to the Deputy Prime Minister on demographic and social policy at the Council of Ministers and Ms Yva Alexandrova, Senior Analyst from the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy. In her opening remarks, Ms Hristova emphasized on the importance of Roma inclusion and outlined the main issues which substantially affect the Roma community and will be covered in the new programming period of the Human Resource Development Operational Programme. The administration promotes an integrated approach at a municipal level combined with an individual approach for each district with compact Roma community will be developed. Among the mentioned specific measures were the scheme for socio-economic inclusion of vulnerable groups which will distribute about 80 million leva, the regulation of construction in the neighborhoods and the need to have a set of measures for issuing tolerance status, providing new terrain and controlling illegal construction, difficulties in attracting children in kindergartens and the role of municipalities in determining the fees, ensuring the sustainability of mediation and lack of health insurance.

Ms Alexandrova presented the study in the town of Kavarnaand highlighted some of its results. The most visible effects of public investments are in the areas of improving infrastructure and access to public services, improving the quality of living conditions and bringing them closer to those of the Bulgarian population in the town, reducing the levels of poverty and social exclusion and a significant reduction in the levels of criminality in Kavarna municipality. The results in the field of health, education and employment do not reveal clear trends and show both good and not so successful measures. She stressed the interaction between the Roma community and the municipality as an important element for the success of the investments.

After the presentation of the study results, Mr Gancho Iliev from the partnering association "World without Borders" shared his impressions from the attitudes of local communities and their evaluation in terms of integration policies. Mr Iliev emphasized on the importance for the community to realize the need for inclusion and development of its potential, which can prevent its consumerist attitudes. He gave Kavarna as a good example where Roma operate independently with institutions, pay their taxes and bills on a daily basis and experts in the institutions accept the community as equal and do not discriminate them. Mr Iliev called the Association of Municipalities to support the steps in provision of land for Roma to build houses legally and using own resources following the example of Kavarna, recalling the example of Radnevo, where were built the first social houses, but due to bad management they are already in poor condition.

Ms Anelia Dudinova, Community Development Coordinator of the Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance "Amalipe" shared the experience of their organisation in working with parents and children at risk of dropping out of school. As a positive example she cited the town of Elin Pelin, a quarter of which is with Roma population in which the municipality is committed to the employment of Roma in local businesses, all children complete secondary education and there are 10 Roma university graduates. Ms Dudinova shared her observation that the Roma community is in the process of modernization and that in many municipalities, including Ihtiman, Samokov, Botevgrad, Etropole, there are experts from Roma origin who can be partners of the municipalities.

In the ensuing discussion on the conclusions of the report, Ms Daniela Ushatova from the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria expressed the view that the model in Kavarna shows how integrated policies and a combination of will and resources can lead to positive changes. From an economic perspective the measures of the municipality support the development of the local economy which continues to operate thanks to the construction of houses and hotels in the Roma neighborhood. Ms Ushatova informed that targeted funding is given for the development of general plans of municipalities due to the dynamic migration processes and outdated database. She focused on aligning the living conditions of Roma with the rest of the Bulgarian population as a long-term benefit with specific effects on fiscal and social payments. The negative coverage of the topic of Roma inclusion in the media was also discussed.

Ms Irina Faion, head of the Bulgarian-Swiss cooperation program and the program to support social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups, shared best practices on the topic of prevention of school drop-out and negative effects of migration on children from Glasgow, Ghent, Gothenburg and other European cities. Among the main highlighted problems are the lack of information on whether children from migrant families are short-term or long-term migrants as well as the lack of documents certifying the class in which are the children. Ms Faion appealed for greater visibility of the positive examples of Roma inclusion in Bulgaria.

Ms Hristova announced the results of a meeting on the development of policies to improve the living conditions in Roma neighborhoods. Among the proposals discussed are the adoption of an individual approach for each Roma quarter to reflect the specifics of the concrete situation; preparing and awarding several types of projects for construction of houses; making arrangements at national level to support municipalities by providing funding, legislative changes, support, changing land use and others. In connection with the proposals announced for the development of policies to improve housing conditions and other investments, Ms Alexandrova mentioned the importance of targeted data collection on key indicators regarding the conditions before making investments, which will allow measuring the effects of these investments at a later stage.

Ms Juliana Metodieva, editor of Marginalia, took a stand on the issue of negative media images of Roma and the hostile attitude of the media towards the community as a whole. She urged that the newly elected mayors be encouraged to solve the problems of Roma integration. In this regard, Ms Alexandrova shared her experience with the study of public attitudes in different municipalities against the inclusion of Roma and the positive attitudes among Bulgarian community in Kavarna where the positive results are visible.

Ms Metodieva raised the question of the problems Roma community faces in the municipality of Sofia. Ms Ushatova said that the social policy and poverty research in the Roma neighborhoods are among the main topics for the municipality of Sofia. Due to the complexity of the problems in the capital, the municipality has set up a team committed to study the status of families as a result of which they provide specialized assistance. An exchange of experience and good practices in solving the housing problems was carried out with local government representatives in Madrid.

Ms Ana Topakbashyan from the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues informed on the impending construction of a system for monitoring and control of implementation of the National Roma Strategy and expressed willingness for the improvement of coordination between different departments of the administration.

The discussion was closed by Ms Alexandrova who summed up the highlights and suggestions and noted the willingness of various stakeholders to accentuate the positive examples for the inclusion of Roma in the country and coordination in the development of specific measures appropriate to the needs of each municipality. The integrated approach of public investment is already part of the national strategy for Roma inclusion, and the source of many good practices.

The public discussion was preceded by a press conference to present the results of the report.




Media coverage (in Bulgarian)

Обсъждат предизвикателствата и добрите практики при инвестициите в ромските общности, 21 January, 2016.
Общинските пари, вложени в ромския квартал в Каварна, дават резултат, 21 January, 2016.
Ромски експерти: Трябва ли да си платим, за да показват медиите добрите примери с ромите?, 22 January, 2016.

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events-1748Monitoring and Responding to Radicalisation Trends and Riskshttps://csd.bg/events/event/monitoring-and-responding-to-radicalisation-trends-and-risks/The terrorist attacks in Paris from 2015 underscored the importance of a holistic policy approach to countering radicalisation that might lead to violence in Europe and beyond, and signaled the need for reassessment of the effectiveness of existing measures.The terrorist attacks in Paris from 2015 underscored the importance of a holistic policy approach to countering radicalisation that might lead to violence in Europe and beyond, and signaled the need for reassessment of the effectiveness of existing measures. The lack of evidence-based analyses of the factors and drivers of radicalisation to guide policy actions remains a major challenge to effectively confronting this complex problem at its roots.

In order to address the existing knowledge gap with regard to how and to what extent internationally observed radicalisation processes are manifested in Bulgaria and the region, and how they should be best monitored and tackled, the Center for the Study of Democracy organised on 8 December 2015 a roundtable discussion on Radicalisation in Southeast and Central Europe: Monitoring and Responding to Key Trends and Risks. The round table was attended by representatives of partner organisations from the Czech Republic and Greece, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the State Agency for National Security (SANS) and various embassies.

Ms Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program at CSD, opened the round table by pointing at present challenges in understanding and countering radicalisation. A shift towards soft policy approaches has been observed across the EU, aimed at identifying and reversing the radicalisation process which often precedes the use of violence. Yet, in many member states decision-makers still lack the appropriate evidence to guide policy actions. Ms Dzhekova stressed the need for more empirical research on why, when and how individuals and groups become radicalised and what are the conditions driving some of them into violence. The Bulgarian government so far has been focussed on better equipping security agencies to monitor, prevent and respond to potential terrorist threats, especially since the terrorist act in Bourgas on 18 July 2012. Meanwhile, a new strategic approach with focus on prevention of radicalisation is also starting to emerge.
Nevertheless, Ms Dzhekova highlighted the crucial importance of basing future policy decisions on rigorous monitoring and evaluations of radicalisation factors and risks.

Dr Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst from the Sociological Program of the CSD, presented the main findings of a study on radicalisation trends and threats in Bulgaria, Greece and the Czech Republic, focussing on Islamist radicalisation. Dr Mancheva discussed the level of both external and home-grown threats of Islamist radicalisation. She elaborated on processes associated with the penetration of Salafi interpretations of Islam (in BG and EL) and the links to Jihadi groups of segments of immigrant Muslim population (in EL). She discussed the extent to which these might be approached as risk factors to Islamist radicalisation. Bulgaria and Greece have large old Muslim minorities, professesing moderate Hanafi Sunni Islam which acts as a protective factor against radicalisation. Yet, some symbolic support for radical Islamist ideas has been observed among some Roma communities in Bulgaria, who are often converts. In Greece, there is a big immigrant community and the country has a history of politically motivated Islamist violence. With regard to foreign fighters, it is telling that none of the countries have seen their natives join the fight in Syria. Nonetheless, all three countries serve as transit route for foreign fighters and instances of provision of logistical support to them are observed in BG and EL.
Dr Mancheva stressed the need for more studies looking at what makes old Muslim communities resilient to adopting Salafi interpretations of Islam.

Mr Miroslav Mihaylov, Director of the National Counterterrorist Center at the State Agency for National Security, presented Bulgaria's emerging approach in countering radicalisation and terrorist threats. A national strategy and action plan on countering radicalisation and terrorism have been elaborated in 2015, reflecting the determination of the Bulgarian government to confront related threats not only through strengthening enforcement and control measures, but also through early prevention of radicalisation. Mr Mihaylov underlined the essentiality of a multi-institutional approach involving the cooperation and exchange of information between authorities at the local and national level as well as between different stakeholders like police, social workers, teachers, civil society and communities. Among the envisioned measures are developing mechanisms to raise awareness of democratic values, stimulating intercultural and religious dialogue, and fostering critical thinking among youngsters.

Dr Lindsay Clutterbuck, an independent expert on radicalisation and counter-terrorism, elaborated on certain behavioural patterns denoting the transition to violence. He presented findings from seven case studies of known violent jihadist attacks and conspiracies in the United Kingdom. He described the early phases of radicalisation where the individual becomes disenchanted and starts adopting radical views. The behavioural signs at this stage are vague and might not mean much and therefore taking action is difficult. Moving on to the final stages of radicalisation, behaviour becomes more visible and closer to the illegal spectrum and develops into a potential indicator of future intentions.
Dr Clutterbuck noted that the UK has been developing effective mechanisms to uncover terrorist planning and preparation ever since the fight against IRA radicals. On the other hand, he confirmed that engagement of the social services is new in the United Kingdom as well and essential when it comes to intervention in the initial phases of radicalisation.

Ms Ines von Behr, Senior Analyst in RAND Europe, elaborated on the challenges of measuring the effectiveness of counter and de-radicalisation programs. She underlined the fact that radicalisation is not a linear process and when designing intervention it is important to distinguish between attitudes on one hand and their behavioural manifestations on the other. Ms von Behr described the five stages that ideally all counter-radicalisation interventions should include: needs assessment, intervention design, implementation, results and monitoring and evaluation. She further elaborated on the crucial issues which should be addressed to ensure successful intervention and facilitate effectiveness assessments. Intervention timing is key - when carried out too early it may serve as a trigger for radicalisation, but when carried out too late the chances of success diminish. Ms von Behr pointed out the importance of methodology when it comes to the difficult task of estimating the effectiveness of interventions and preventive measures.

Ms Dzhekova, pointed out the lack of systematic collection of statistical data regarding different extremist crimes and perpetrators, which could serve for compiling regular situation reports. She further stressed the need to develop working methods in identifying, monitoring and evaluating radicalisation risks. A well-developed practical monitoring tool would ideally enable relevant stakeholders to use appropriate methods for analysis and observation of radicalisation phenomena and conduct a systematic risk identification and assessment of trends at local level. Explaining the wide range of drivers and factors of radicalisation, as well as its potential behavioural manifestations, Ms Dzhekova further introduced a system of risk indicators as the basis for designing a practical instrument for first line officers from police or other public bodies to identify and monitor risk signs.

Mr Georgi Ovnarski, expert on right-wing extremism from the State Agency for National Security, stressed the importance to engage other stakeholders like teachers, who are better placed to spot signs of radicalisation at an early stage since they work with young people. The police encounters individuals mostly in the context of dealing with criminal offences, when the process is usually in later stages and thus much more difficult to manage.

Ms Miglena Bogdanova, expert on religious extremism from the State Agency for National Security, added that once authorities are alerted of signs of risk behaviour, there needs to be an established response mechanism. Teachers and other frontline practitioners should not be left alone to deal with the problem. It should be clear what actions shall be taken and to whom the problem shall be referred. More institutions and community members should therefore be involved in order to bridge gaps between authorities and communities. Furthermore Ms Bogdanova underlined the fact that even if indicators are in place, intention still needs to be proven which is very difficult in practice.

Mr Jivko Dimitrov from the Ministry of the Interior confirmed the importance of monitoring radicalisation and the need for improvement of local level information collection. He expressed his belief that due to the constrained resources of the police, it is better for risk assessment to be carried out on a higher level first, so that identified localities of concern can then be targeted specifically.






Gallery

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events-1752The problem of Domestic and Gender-Based Violence in the Context of Compliance with the Human Rights. Good Practices in Support of Victims of Violence in Norwayhttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-problem-of-domestic-and-gender-based-violence-in-the-context-of-compliance-with-the-human-rights/Domestic and gender-based violence are cross-cutting issues, the counteracting against which is outlined as a priority in the documents of various international organizations. Bulgaria is among those EU-member states that do not collect statistical data and there are no systematic and comprehensive studies of the scale and prevalence of these phenomena. Domestic and gender-based violence are cross-cutting issues, the counteracting against which is outlined as a priority in the documents of various international organizations. Bulgaria is among those EU-member states that do not collect statistical data and there are no systematic and comprehensive studies of the scale and prevalence of these phenomena. At the same time, the effectiveness of the protection of victims of domestic and gender-based violence represents a substantial challenge to all stakeholders involved in this process.

The Center for the Study of Democracy participated in an initiative aimed at reducing these deficits.

On 2-4 December 2015 a seminar with representatives of stakeholders was held in Sofia organized by the "Partners-Bulgaria" in partnership with the Academy of Human Rights - Norway and the Center for the Study of Democracy. The seminar aimed to contribute to developing and enhancing the knowledge and experience of professionals working in the field of domestic and gender-based violence.

The seminar was attended by representatives from the Agency for Social Assistance, the Chief Directorate "National Police", the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior in Burgas, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora, the Bulgarian Judges Association, Sofia Regional Court, Sofia City Court and Shumen District Court and NGOs maintaining crisis centers to provide services to victims of violence, as well as working in the field of protection of rights of victims and human rights in general. Guest of honor during the second day of the seminar was H.E. Gyuru Katarina Vikyor, Ambassador of Norway in Bulgaria.

During the first day of the programme the participants discussed methodological aspects and definitions for research and practical work in counteracting domestic violence and gender-based violence (DGBV) and the current situation in Bulgaria and Norway in relation to these phenomena. The second day was devoted to examining DGBV in the context of human rights and legal aspects of countering them, and during the third and final day, participants exchanged experience in practical assistance to victims of DGBV.






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events-1754Enhancing the Efficiency of Public Investments in Roma Communities with the Participation of Representatives of Local Authorities in Stara Zagorahttps://csd.bg/events/event/enhancing-the-efficiency-of-public-investments-in-roma-communities-with-the-participation-of-represe/Roma inclusion is a strategically important area where public investments are increasing in importance. The new programme period (2014-2020) emphasizes the role of municipal authorities in promoting comprehensive and long-term public investments for development.Roma inclusion is a strategically important area where public investments are increasing in importance. The new programme period (2014-2020) emphasizes the role of municipal authorities in promoting comprehensive and long-term public investments for development.

On 4 December 2015 a round table with representatives of local authorities in Stara Zagora was held, organized by World without Borders Association in partnership with the Center for the Study of Democracy. The aim of the discussion was to present a study on the effects of public investments in Roma communities and to discuss ways to increase the levels and effectiveness of these investments at a local level.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Regional Governor of Stara Zagora, representatives of Radnevo Municipality, municipal councilors of Nikolaevo Municipality, representatives of the International Youth Centre and Amalipe, as well as representatives of the Regional Inspectorate of Education, the Labour Bureau, the Agency for Social Assistance and the Regional Health inspection.

The CSD report Socio-Economic Effects of Public Investments for Roma Inclusion in Kavarna on the effects of comprehensive public investments in Roma communities was presented.

The participants discussed the specifics of Roma Inclusion in Stara Zagora Region and concrete ways to increase the levels and effectiveness of investments in Roma communities. The recognized need for investments is mainly linked to the process of solving the problem of illegal buildings in Lozenets district in the town of Stara Zagora.

The existing financial mechanisms at the local level, the need to develop municipal integration plans that reveal funding opportunities for partnership projects between the municipality and NGOs were also among the discussed topics. The deadline for submission of these projects is April 29. There is also a possibility under "Integration" measure for financing projects for community development.







Press conference (in Bulgarian)

Пресконференция на СНЦ Свят без граници в БТА, 4 December 2015


Media coverage (in Bulgarian)

Предстоящо: Кръгла маса за публичните инвестиции в ромски общности с участие на местната власт в област Стара Загора, 2 December 2015
Кръгла маса търси повишаване на ефективността на публичните инвестиции в ромски общности, 3 December 2015
Публичните инвестиции в инфраструктурата на ромски квартал с най-голям ефект, 4 December 2015

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events-1746State Capture: Drivers, Outcomes and Measurementhttps://csd.bg/events/event/state-capture-drivers-outcomes-and-measurement/The Center for the Study of Democracy, coordinator of the SELDI initiative and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)held a workshop: State Capture: Drivers, Outcomes and Measurement in Istanbul, Turkey, on 3-4 December 2015 with the support of the Think Tank Fund of the Open Society Foundations. The workshop gathered leading European and US anti-corruption and good governance experts to refine the definition of state capture and identify potential ways to measure the phenomenon, including in particular sectors, such as energy, banking, telecommunications, etc. The Center for the Study of Democracy, coordinator of the http://seldi.netSELDI initiative and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) held a workshop: State Capture: Drivers, Outcomes and Measurement in Istanbul, Turkey, on 3-4 December 2015 with the support of the Think Tank Fund of the Open Society Foundations. The workshop gathered leading European and US anti-corruption and good governance experts to refine the definition of state capture and identify potential ways to measure the phenomenon, including in particular sectors, such as energy, banking, telecommunications, etc. The main focus of discussion was put on ways to provide practical metrics of the risks and impact of state capture in transition countries - new member states, candidate, and prospective EU candidate countries.

State capture refers to the situation when private interests use corruption to mold institutions in such a way as to preserve a monopoly on resources in key economic sectors. They often use the system of public funds allocation to sustain otherwise largely uncompetitive businesses in strategic economic sectors, where clientelistic networks can exploit enormous rents from the corporate governance of SOEs, the management of large-scale projects, and the allocation of public procurement. Foreign governments or international companies can also can use their dominant economic position to capture elites and, hence, to directly influence decision-making, sometimes at a catastrophic cost for the political stability and territorial integrity of a country.

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events-1742International Seminar on the Problems of Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence https://csd.bg/events/event/international-seminar-on-the-problems-of-domestic-violence-and-gender-based-violence/Although throughout the last decade the Bulgarian authorities have adopted a number of acts and subsidiary legislation, as well as improved the existing ones, related to domestic and gender-based violence (DGBV), the country still has a long way to go to bring its legislation and practices in full compliance with EU and Council of Europe standards. Although throughout the last decade the Bulgarian authorities have adopted a number of acts and subsidiary legislation, as well as improved the existing ones, related to domestic and gender-based violence (DGBV), the country still has a long way to go to bring its legislation and practices in full compliance with EU and Council of Europe standards.

Partners-Bulgaria Foundation organises an international seminar in partnership with Human Rights Academy, Norway and the Center for the Study of Democracy. The topic of the seminar is The problem of domestic violence and gender-based violence in the context of protection of human rights. Good practices in support of victims of violence in Norway. The seminar will take place in Conference hall “Two” in “Rila” Hotel, Sofia on 02-04 December 2015.

Among the expected participants in the seminar are representatives from the Agency for Social Assistance, the Chief Directorate "National Police", the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior in Burgas, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora, the Bulgarian Judges Association, Sofia Regional Court, Sofia City Court and Shumen District Court. The NGO sector will be represented by organisations running crisis centers providing services to victims of violence as well as working in the field of protection of rights of victims and human rights in general.

The scale of the problem of domestic and gender-based violence and the need to improve the mechanism for support victims will be among the main topics of the seminar. Good practices for addressing the problem in Norway will be presented.

Key presenters and speakers at the seminar will be Ms Lillian Hjorth from the Human Rights Academy, Norway and Dr Solveig Bergman from the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.


The seminar is held in the frame of the National Study on Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (DGBV) and Development of Victim Support Model (VSM) initiated by the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria and funded under Program BG 12 “Domestic and Gender-Based Violence” in accordance with the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014.

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events-1740Enhancing CSOs Advocacy Efforts for Countering Corruption in Critical Sectors in SEE: Leveraging the EU Accession Process and State of the Art Researchhttps://csd.bg/events/event/enhancing-csos-advocacy-efforts-for-countering-corruption-in-critical-sectors-in-see-leveraging-the/On 29-30 October 2015 the SELDI and ANTICORRP initiatives organized one and half day conference in Podgorica to discuss with local and regional stakeholders the best methods for transforming the existing cutting-edge anti-corruption and good governance research into efficient policy and advocacy tools. The participants focused on the role of the civil society in evaluating the impact of current anti-corruption measures and stressed on the need of stronger collaboration with the public institutions, the media, and the general public. On 29-30 October 2015 the SELDI and ANTICORRP initiatives organized one and half day conference in Podgorica to discuss with local and regional stakeholders the best methods for transforming the existing cutting-edge anti-corruption and good governance research into efficient policy and advocacy tools. The participants focused on the role of the civil society in evaluating the impact of current anti-corruption measures and stressed on the need of stronger collaboration with the public institutions, the media, and the general public. The participants noted the importance of free access to data, such as public procurement databases, asset declarations, financial audits of state-owned enterprises, the reports and recommendations by the European Commission.

Mr. Dragan Koprivica, Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Montenegro opened the event by stressing that corruption affects all aspects of the economy, however the policy results have not been sufficient. In that regard, large expectations are placed on the newly established in Montenegro Special Prosecutor’s Office and the Agency for Countering Corruption. These institutions face the challenge of regaining the trust of the citizens, by performing monitoring of the work of the public institutions and the campaigns of political parties.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria and SELDI Coordinator recommended sustained criminal investigation, enhancing the CSOs’ role and focusing the anti-corruption efforts on the most critical sectors. He noted that SELDI is a growing initiative of 30 CSOs in the region, and it will continue to deliver relevant policy options to the national governments. In conclusion, he underlined that regional CSOs should strive to leverage the EU accession process and EU research generated knowledge to reduce corruption risks and pressure in the region. Mr. Milivoje Katnić, Chief Special Prosecutor, Special Public Prosecutor`s Office, noted that since its opening on 3 July 2015 the office has established good communication with all stakeholders, especially the civil sector and the citizens, who report cases of corruption. He underlined that informing the public about indictments and convictions, along with professionalism is key to generating a culture of corruption intolerance. He promised to inform the media in timely manner about the work of the office, as long as it does not interfere with any ongoing investigation and will help journalists to interpret correctly the information. As a main challenge, he identified the need of the country to build democratic society and institutions that work efficiently.

Ms Kirsi Pekuri, Head of Political, European Integration and Trade Section at the EU Delegation to Montenegro highlighted the fact that corruption increases poverty and social injustice, destroys the social fabric and damages democracy. That is why all stakeholders, including the civil society, have to join forces and engage in an open and constructive debate with the authorities, raise awareness, uncover cases of corruption, and advocate for the fundamental human rights. Ms Pekuri stressed that EC will stay by the side of the CSOs and support them in their efforts. Ms Gudrun Steinacker, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Montenegro stressed that the fight against corruption will always be ongoing. However, that should not deter the society and the governments. According to Ambassador Steinacker, the most concerning issue is the lack of response and action. She called for immediate actions by the prosecution of the counties in the region to investigate large construction projects and other activities with high corruption risks. She noted that EU should consider another approach at least for the SEE region, tailored to its traditions and history, in order to achieve practical results of the fight against corruption. In that regard SELDI is an important network and can contribute to the honest discussion about high level corruption.

During the first panel of the conference, the participants discussed the methods of transforming cutting-edge anti-corruption and good governance research into policy and advocacy tools. Mr. Munir Podumljak, Executive Director of the Partnership for Social Development, Croatia stressed that corruption has many forms, and the research should answer the question what it is and how to tackle it.

Dr. Andreas Bågenholm, Program Manager, Quality of Government Institute, Gothenburg and ANTICORRP Project Manager, presented the Quality of Government 2013 survey and the historical experience of Sweden in tackling effectively corruption. According to him, the challenge is to identify past practices applicable in the current situation of the region, as the past experience of countries like Sweden could prove difficult to replicate due to various differing factors. The Quality of Government 2013 survey carried out in 206 regions assesses the perception of corruption in the areas of education, health care and law enforcement. According to the data, there are large regional variations even within countries in Europe. He noted that according to the research findings GDP per capita, gender equality, freedom of the press, transparency and ethnic diversity prove to be the key factors that contribute to positive anti-corruption developments. Dr. Andreas Bågenholm concluded by underlying that without social trust, strong institutions, and effective tax, pension and other systems, no successful anticorruption changes can be sustained.

Ms Ágnes Czibik, Researcher at the Government Transparency Institute and Analyst at DIGIWHIST: The Digital Whistleblower, Hungary and Analyst at ANTICORRP, presented the possible tools to detect corruption risks in the area of public procurement. She introduced the notion of red flags, which can be assuming different forms and can signal corruption risks, such as having only one bidder, publishing an open call few days before the deadline, political ties of the winner, etc. Ms Czibik showcased that her institute had calculated that the average price savings compared to the announced expected price of the tender that can be achieved, in public procurement based on the number of participating bidders can be substantial – from 10% in the case of one bidder, up to 22% in the case of more than eight bidders. Ms Czibik noted that by using similar methods CSOs can identify hotspots of corruption, where they should intervene and thus help for the improved future planning and funding of donors’ initiatives. She recommended that the CSOs and public institutions invest in data collection. For example, researchers and policy-makers can compare motorway prices in different EU regions, and identify areas with higher corruption risks.

Ms Rusudan Mikhelidze, Project Manager, Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development presented the OECD anti-corruption activities and programmes. She highlighted that civil society is involved in their monitoring work and have been active in submitting alternative reports. As good examples she listed the open data portals operating in various countries. She concluded that by using research and monitoring tools in the right way, the international organizations and the society can create pressure and hold governments accountable. Mr. Dejan Milovac, Deputy Executive Director and Investigative Center Director of the Network for Affirmation of the NGO Sector – MANS, Montenegro noted that the largest challenge of the CSOs is to translate the available data into political recommendations, as well as to obtain political support. He underlined that change is difficult, though possible – after many years of work MANS has succeeded in initiating changes in the criminal law. Recently it has launched a public campaign to draw attention towards the illegal enrichment of public officers and is aiming to promote the passing of a separate law dealing with that phenomena. He recommended that CSOs make the media their ally. In that way the media can explain better the damage from corruption to the general public – a topic rarely discussed properly in the public sphere, especially regarding the high-level profile corruption. Mr. Milovac noted that there is certain progress in Montenegro in terms of legislation, however the policy implementation is not in place.

Ms Jovana Marović, Research Coordinator at Institute Alternative, Montenegro listed the main priorities in front of her country and the EU. She noted the trend of government buying votes by employing people in the public sector, as well as the prosecution of only low-ranking officers. She expressed her concerns about the intransparent manner in which concessions are granted, and the low trust of the citizens in the public institutions. She noted that CSOs are prevented from obtaining data, and excluded from the decision-making process. Still, in recent years the civil society sector in Montenegro has realized its potential to collaborate and NGOs in Montenegro have turned into key subjects for providing corruption monitoring, and filling institutional gaps. As good practices she noted the portal My Town which visualizes the local budgets, Moja Uprava portal which allows the citizens to check the circumstances of employment contracts by the public institutions, as well as the Portal Moj Novac which follows the budget spendings of the institutions.

During the second panel the participants discussed the possible methods for advocating for good governance in the energy sector.

Mr. Garret Tankosic-Kelly, Principal, Southeast Europe Change Net underlined that there are large amounts of unspent grants and loans for energy efficiency available. He noted that despite that energy efficiency creates more jobs than energy production, the governments in the region concentrate mainly on the latter. He recommended that CSOs carefully analyze the developments in the energy sector and watch for corruption risk patterns in the way energy is produced, distributed, imported and exported. CSOs should also monitor who appoints the energy regulators, and if they change every time a government changes. Mr. Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria listed the key energy security risks of the region – energy expenditure intensity, unsustainable import dependency, low energy efficiency, widespread energy poverty, and governance deficits. Mr. Vladimirov stressed that if the energy market is liberalized, it will be less liable to corruption. He recommended that the countries ensure security of supply and diversify their energy sources. CSOs and the SELDI initiative should look at the main red flags such as low liquidity, cases of conflicts of interest, lack of independent technical and economic analysis or feasibility study before an energy project is realized, politically driven decisions, application of exclusive criteria favoring only one bidder, matching of successful bidders with political supporters.

Dr. Boško Mijatović, President of the Center for Liberal‐Democratic Studies, Serbia highlighted that the energy sector is monopolized, and that there is still doubt if open procedure tenders could have brought more value than inter-governmental arrangements for large infrastructure projects. According to him, the politically appointed directors of energy agencies and state companies work in intransparent manner, and do not report on the efficiency of their institutions. He called for strengthened political will for reforms and transparency. Mr. Visar Vokrri, Advanced Researcher at Riinvest Institute, Kosovo underlined that security of supply presents the largest challenge in Kosovo, since it affects all other sectors. He stressed that political influence on the SOE is an issue that requires immediate attention. A challenge presents the fact that the third energy package has not been fully transposed in the legislation and the process of further unbundling and liberalization of the sector has been slow. In addition, the licensing procedures are bureaucratic and unclear, and do not serve as incentive for potential investors. Mr. Đorđije Brkuljan, Deputy Executive Director and Coordinator of Program "Good Governance", Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Montenegro noted the serious lack of data on oil imports, consumptions and stocks. Public procurement information is not easily available and is not in open format. He recommended that the application of the competition law in the energy sector is critically assessed. Mr. Brkuljan also expressed concern about the construction of hydro and coal power plants and their potential impact on the environment.

Ms Ceren Zeytinoğlu, Expert, Good Governance Program, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation stressed the complete control of gas and its transit by a single company in Turkey, the mismanagement of renewable energy sources, corruption risks in the legal framework for environmental assessments, and the controversial views regarding the construction of nuclear power plants. She concluded that the public procurement law has been changed many times and there are doubts for mismanagement of energy projects. Ms Eugena Topi, Research Assistant, Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER) presented the main issues in the energy system of Albania, including the challenges of unbundling the system, financial mismanagement and political dependence of the state-owned enterprises (SEO) manifested in large debts. Currently the Albanian population is hoping that the new reform on judiciary will change the inefficiency of the sector. Ms Emilija Tudzarovska-Gjorgjievska, Project Officer, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) noted the need for increase of the role of Energy Regulation Commission. She recommended that the privatization of power plants is carefully monitored for corruption risks. Ms Leila Bičakčić, Executive Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting underlined that Bosnia and Herzegovina has not been able to fulfill the energy community requirements. According to her, the potential for production of renewable energy remains unutilised, while the main investments are directed towards the coal industry.

On 30 October 2015, the participants in the conference exachaged experience in achieving CSOs' advocacy and impact. Mr. Hans Gutbrod, Coordinator of Transparify presented the five-star rating of the CSO transparency standards and stressed that CSOs should be responsible and accountable to the citizens. He noted the trend of increased CSOs transparency, observed since 2013, and congratulated the SELDI members with high transparency scores. CSOs can obtain further information on how they can become more transparent at www.transparify.org/get-five. Dr. Todor Yalamov, Assistant Professor at Sofia University recommended that CSOs achieve organizational and management excellence, citizen engagement, integration into the national policy infrastructure and prepare to face new entrepreneurship challenges in order to lead the policy change. Among the helpful skills needed in every CSO, he listed the IT assets, publication of annual reports, use of ISO standards in internal processes’ management, establishment of working relations with investigative journalists, and the use of the social networks. As a key challenge Dr. Yalamov identified the integration of CSOs into the work of international organizations, which is needed when the national pool of experts is very small.

Mr. Matthew Brunwasser, Belgrade-based journalist shared some observations of his work with investigative media. He expressed concern that most journalists report only the information that people in power provide, and do not question or analyze the real situation. Despite the fact that during the last 20 years the freedom of the press has increased substantially, the quality of media articles remains low. This is due to the political ownership of the media outlets. Even the technical advance and the emergence of the online media has not resulted in stronger democracy, as the journalists are still not used to challenge the misconducts of oligarchs and to create local demand for anti-corruption. Ms Ceren Zeytinoğlu, Expert, Good Governance Program, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation presented the advocacy efforts of TESEV and its success in bringing together academics and policy-makers. She noted the importance of civil society effecting the parliamentary debate and inducing political change, for example in regard to the new constitutional process in Turkey and the reforms of the Public Administration Law. She stressed that CSOs should constantly rethink their objectives and expand their research areas according to the changing economic and political environment.

Mr. Munir Podumljak, Executive Director of the Partnership for Social Development, Croatia presented the public procurement database www.integrityobservers.eu – a result of more than 10 years of work. The database shows real time data of public procurement contracts, type of procedure, name of the contactor. Mr. Podumljak also presented the project www.fairpress.eu which exposes the clientelism in media. Ms Milica Bogdanović, ICT Coordinator and Online Portal Editor, Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Montenegro stressed on the importance of combining advocacy and journalist methods, such as the use of social media and infographics. She presented an example from CDT’s efforts to change the law on financing of political parties including face-to-face meeting with policy makers and thematic articles published on the CDT website. She recommended that CSOs prepare simple and easy to understand messages to the public. Ambassador Victor Jackovich, Co-Chair of the Business Advisory Council for Southeast Europe and Member of SELDI International Advisory Board noted that the Business Advisory Council will commit to support the good business practices in the region by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with SELDI. He expressed his believe that structural reforms can succeed if people understand and support them.










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events-1738Socio-economic Effects of Public Investments for Roma Inclusion at a Municipal Levelhttps://csd.bg/events/event/socio-economic-effects-of-public-investments-for-roma-inclusion-at-a-municipal-level/Structural factors such as entrenched poverty, low education rates, low labour market participation and political non-participation lead to a wide spread exclusion of the Roma from all major spheres of life. This is combined and re-enforced with opinions that it isn’t worth it to invest in Roma communities as there are no results from those investments. To provide new data and insight on the social and economic effects of public investments in Roma communities research work was undertaken. Structural factors such as entrenched poverty, low education rates, low labour market participation and political non-participation lead to a wide spread exclusion of the Roma from all major spheres of live. This is combined and re-enforced with opinions that it isn’t worth it to invest in Roma communities as there are no results from those investments. To provide new data and insight on the social and economic effects of public investments in Roma communities research work was undertaken.

To present the findings of the research and to promote a policy focused debate through practical solutions on local level, a training for civil society representatives was hosted by the Centre for the Study of Democracy and World without Borders in Stara Zagora on 27 October 2015. The training was attended by over 30 participants, including representatives of the “Samaryani” Foundation, representatives of the Amalipe community centres, "Become a Guardian", Burgas, "Future for Children", Kazanlak, youth workers from the International Youth Centre in Stara Zagora.

The training was opened by Yva Alexandrova, Senior Analyst with the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, and Gancho Iliev, executive director of World without borders. Yva Alexandrova outlined the scope of the survey in the town of Kavarna and highlighted some of the results from the study. The most clear and direct effects have been established with regard to investments in infrastructure and housing. In 2004 a process of legalisation of illegal houses in the Roma neighborhood Hadji Dimitar was started and a municipal accomodation centre was renovated to house families in extreme poverty. Major investments were made for the construction of a water pipeline and a sewerage system. It is difficult to draw conclusions about the level of healthcare as effects take longer to manifest themselves. However, it may be noted that access to medical care services has improved. The situation is similar in the field of education where despite the lack of overall assessment data, some general tendencies can be outlined - there is a positive trend in the increase of enrolment rates for pre-school and primary education, while the kindergarten and the school in the Roma neighborhood are completely renovated. However, the dropout rates and the level of educational attainment as a whole remain low.

The results in the field of employment show the close correlation between the level of education and the position on the labor market. The overall picture shows low levels of permanent employment, dependence on seasonal and low-paid jobs and very high rates of labor migration. In the area of income, the importance of migration is clearly visible, as almost half of the Roma households in Kavarna depend on income generated abroad. There are visible results also in the field of reducing poverty and material deprivation. The percentage of Roma households living in poverty in Kavarna is relatively lower compared to the national average. In the area of justice and crime the levels of criminality in Kavarna municipality seem significantly lower than those in the country as a whole and there are no reported cases for many types of crimes. In the area of political participation, there are four Roma representatives in the municipal council elected during the previous municipal elections in 2011 and an appointed Roma municipality liaison person.

The presentation of the main findings of the survey was followed by a lively discussion. The participants shared the view that there are public investments in Roma communities in the country as a whole, but some participants expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the spent resources, whether they are sufficient and whether their spending and their results are visible. It was also shared that in order to have the best effect of the investments, the community must be prepared in advance and the most successful way to achieve it is through the engagement and work of community-based organisations. Particular emphasis was placed on the need for recognition of the education as a value for the community.

After the discussion Gancho Iliev outlined the main mechanisms for advocacy in working with local authorities and shared very concrete and practical advice for building a successful advocacy campaign. Participants in the training were given the task to build and present elements of an advocacy campaign targeting the community on a topic in which they already work and have experience. Among the presented initiatives were a campaign against early marriages, a campaign to attract children from homes for children deprived of parental care in youth activities, a campaign for positive paternity "Where is the father?" a campaign for targeted support for children to attend schools "Become a guardian".

In the last part of the event Gancho Iliev outlined the role of the civil society for the development of regional strategies for Roma integration and local integration plans. Within the following discussion were shared available tools and programmes for financing initiatives in the framework of the strategies and plans at a municipal level. At the end of the event Yva Alexandrova thanked the participants and reiterated the importance of effective participation of Roma organisations in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of local policies and investments, as well as continuing field work in the community.





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events-1750Detecting and Tackling Tax Fraud, Tax Evasion and Corruption in Direct Taxation https://csd.bg/events/event/detecting-and-tackling-tax-fraud-tax-evasion-and-corruption-in-direct-taxation/On 15 – 16 October 2015 CSD organised a visit of Swiss Federal Tax Administration experts in Bulgaria. Mr. Emanuel Lauber, Head of the Division of Penal Affairs and Investigations and Mr. Dieter Krähenbühl, Deputy Team Leader of the Division of Penal Affairs and Investigations took part in the Annual Meeting of the National Revenue Office, giving a lecture on the 15th to an audience of some 50 tax office directors, senior inspectors from the regional offices and the central office leadership followed up by a working meeting with the directors of the risk assessment and policy analysis directorates.On 15 – 16 October 2015 CSD organised a visit of Swiss Federal Tax Administration experts in Bulgaria. Mr. Emanuel Lauber, Head of the Division of Penal Affairs and Investigations and Mr. Dieter Krähenbühl, Deputy Team Leader of the Division of Penal Affairs and Investigations took part in the Annual Meeting of the National Revenue Office, giving a lecture on the 15th to an audience of some 50 tax office directors, senior inspectors from the regional offices and the central office leadership followed up by a working meeting with the directors of the risk assessment and policy analysis directorates.

Mr. Lauber introduced NRA to the structure of the Swiss tax administration and described briefly the methods of the fighting tax evasion and tax fraud. Although Switzerland and Bulgaria are structurally different from governance perspective and tax governance could not be directly transferred from Switzerland to Bulgaria, the preliminary analysis conducted by CSD suggests that there is a considerable body of transferable know-how in terms of detecting and tackling tax fraud, evasion and corruption in direct taxation.

Tax fraud and tax evasion are treated as different acts of violation of the law. Tax evasion is defined as the fact of not stating the full amount of one's profit intentionally, or by negligence. The cantonal tax administration deal with the problems of tax evasion and tax fraud. Mr. Lauber described the tools for investigation by his administration and concluded that it is basically interrogation. The perquisition, or other specific means for the criminal investigation are applied only in cases of significant violations.

In such cases cooperation between the cantonal and the federal tax administration is of high importance. The federal administration provides the cantonal with deeper knowledge about the illegal environment. Also, the federal administration has more rights related to investigation and thus cooperation between the two levels of governance contributes to the effectiveness of the overall process. As an indicator for risk, Mr. Lauber pointed the fact of “crossing borders” between the cantons, or the country boarders. This is considered as abusive behavior.

Mr. Krähenbühl focused on managing the risk of corruption in the tax administration. To minimize this risk the Tax administration is trying to maximize the trust in the institutions and their mechanisms, which is again accomplished through transparency and democratic approach providing firms and citizens with the opportunity of giving feedback. Another major approach is the distribution of power by avoiding the concentration of power in the hands of the management. Decisions have to be discussed in order for self-serving interests to be excluded from the acts of the administration. Position rotation is seen as a useful method for avoiding abuse of power. The teamwork, especially during interrogation is important in order to avoid any attempt of bribery.

NRA audience posted a lot of questions to the Swiss tax experts. The questions covered areas as what are the determinants for what tools of investigation (i.e. criminal investigation) should be be used by which administration and which cases, transfer pricing regime and fraud and evasion linked with transfer pricing, procedures for sharing of information between Swiss and Bulgarian tax administration at different stages of tax investigations.

In addition, the FTA experts had a separate meeting on 16th with the Executive Director of the National Revenue Agency of Bulgaria for a follow up discussion on future cooperation. A separate discussion was held with the head of the internal control directorate as an important element of the project capacity development section.

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events-1756Hidden economy in Bulgaria: data, trends and analyses https://csd.bg/events/event/hidden-economy-in-bulgaria-data-trends-and-analyses/On October 16, 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted an academic data confrontation seminar on hidden economy in Bulgaria. The seminar brought together leading researchers and practitioners to discuss different methodologies, empirical data and estimates of hidden economy in Bulgaria. On October 16, 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted an academic data confrontation seminar on hidden economy in Bulgaria. The seminar brought together leading researchers and practitioners to discuss different methodologies, empirical data and estimates of hidden economy in Bulgaria.

Prof. Stefan Petranov from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohriski” presented the composite index “economy out of the shadows”, which is based on a combination of soft and hard data. It consists of two components – statistical, based on data from the National Statistical Institute, Labour office, National Social Security Institute and Bulgarian National Bank and sociological, which is based on business and population survey data.

Dr. Alexander Gerganov presented the two indexes of hidden economy – business and population, which have been constructed by the Center for the Study of Democracy since 2002. Alexander discussed the latest methodological innovations in the calculation of indexes since 2015 and compared the dynamics of indexes against other long time series such as the IMD’s global competitiveness rankings and data from NSI.

Mr. Trifon Pavkov, director of the Analysis and Forecasts Directorate of the National Revenue Agency presented the most recent developments in the agency related to its efforts to counter the hidden economy. Among them were data mining and big data approaches mixed with building call-center services for pro-active soft measures, which led to increase in due payments collection above 80% of dues, introduction of lottery based on cash receipts and other eventual innovations as introduction of mobile POS and electronic cash receipts.

Associate professor Eugenia Vasileva from the University of National and World Economy presented in-depth case studies conducted by her students on company and sector level.

Associate professor Desislava Yordanova from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohriski” presented an interesting intersection of domains of hidden economy and family business studies. There are various important issues of statistical (not)reporting of family business activities, subsistence and sharing economies.

Dr. Todor Yalamov presented the results of a study of hidden economy in Macedonia using the CSD index instrumentarium as well as the mirror statistics of trade between Macedonia and Bulgaria as an instrument for precise estimation of hidden trade.

Professor Emilia Chengelova from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences presented the preliminary conclusions from the most recent survey of the Association of Industrial Capital and No-Shadow Economy Center.

The seminar speakers and participants had the opportunity to touch base and discuss hidden economy issues with two experts from the Swiss Federal Tax Administration - Mr. Emanuel Lauber, Head of the Division of Penal Affairs and Investigations and Mr. Dieter Krähenbühl, Deputy Team Leader of the Division of Penal Affairs and Investigations.


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events-1734Vulnerable Groups between the Civil Society and the Statehttps://csd.bg/events/event/vulnerable-groups-between-the-civil-society-and-the-state/Victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons in need of international protection and those deprived of liberty are among the vulnerable groups in need of the support of the civic sector in their relationships with institutions. Their problems were at the forefront of the discussion at the roundtable ‘Vulnerable Groups between the Civil Society and the State’, organized on 7 October 2015 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. Representatives of institutions and NGOs, involved in supporting the four vulnerable groups, took part in the event. Victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons in need of international protection and those deprived of liberty are among the vulnerable groups in need of the support of the civic sector in their relationships with institutions. Their problems were at the forefront of the discussion at the roundtable ‘Vulnerable Groups between the Civil Society and the State’, organized on 7 October 2015 by the Center for the Study of Democracy. Representatives of institutions and NGOs, involved in supporting the four vulnerable groups, took part in the event.

In her opening remarks, Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center, marked the highlights of the Center’s long years of work on the situation of all four vulnerable groups and the importance of the co-operation between institutions and NGOs in the improvement of their position. In her address, Ms Kamelia Dimitrova, Acting Secretary of the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, gave examples of the Commission’s successful interaction with NGOs and re-iterated the commitment and will of the institution for wide scale application of models of co-operation with the civil society.

Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center, pointed to the problematic areas in the communication between vulnerable communities and institutions, on which the research deliberates, and outlined the future steps of the initiative.

In the roundtable’s first panel the authors of the report ‘Supporting Vulnerable Groups before the State: the Role of Civil Society Organisations’ presented its findings. Ms Yva Alexandrova, Senior Analyst with the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, announced the conclusions and recommendations, regarding victims of trafficking and vulnerable foreigners. Victims of trafficking face problems like identification, lack of targeted campaigns in main places of origin, difficulties in criminal proceedings against traffickers, insufficiency of services. Regarding foreigners in need of international protection Ms Alexandrova pointed out to the language barrier and the lack of information in languages, understandable to foreigners, as well as to the problems in the international protection procedure.

Ms Maria Doichinova, Analyst with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, outlined the main problems, faced by persons deprived of their liberty in their relations with institutions. Among them are isolation and the excessive dependency on the prison authorities, which reflects on the workload of prison social workers, dealing with prisoners’ problems within and outside prison. Ms Miriana Ilcheva deliberated on the difficulties before victims of domestic violence – the lack of ratification of the Istanbul Convention, problematic relations with health authorities, as well as with the judiciary in the protection order proceedings.

In the ensuing discussion Ms Kamelia Dimitrova presented the efforts of the anti-trafficking commission to further develop its models for co-operation with NGOs and to update the National Referral Mechanism for victims of trafficking. Emphasis was made on the Commission’s legislative initiatives and the need to use NGOs’ legal expertise in this regard, the re-opening of shelters for victims of trafficking and their long-term reintegration. Ms Kremena Chobanova, Juvenile justice consultant with UNICEF, pointed out the treatment of children victims of internal trafficking as authors of anti-social acts.

Ms Anna Andreeva, Director of social activity and adaptation with the State Agency for Refugees, stated the key role and contribution of the civil sector in the refugee crisis of the recent past and outlined the problems in the statute of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable groups. Ms Nadka Doychinova, Chief expert in the Agency for Social Assistance, and Mr Tzvetan Tzvetkov, Chief of Social Activity Sector in the General Directorate for Execution of Penalties, raised the issue of the difficulties in financing the issuing of identity papers of prisoners and the ensuing problems in paying their social support. The shortage of financial resources in the penitentiary system was also emphasized.

Ms Nelly Angelova, Director of the Special Home for Temporary Placement of Foreigners in Busmantsi, pointed out that the closed establishments of the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior, such as the Home, had actually overcome many of the problems, characteristic of the penitentiary system.

In the roundtable’s second panel, Ms Miriana Ilcheva presented a draft concept on more effective participation of NGOs in the system of support of vulnerable groups. Co-ordination of efforts between institutions and NGOs on all levels, including project financing of organisations from the state budget, as well as better presence of civic structures in the process of preparing legislation and policy making, are suggested as general avenues for such participation. The concept also offers concrete sector reforms, among which an established mechanism for access of NGOs to prisons, participation of civil society in trainings of institutions on all levels, enhanced presence of the non-governmental sector in the reintegration of victims of trafficking.

Ms Radostina Pavlova, International programs and projects Expert in the Animus Association Foundation, outlined the four main roles of the civic sector as regards vulnerable communities – experts, mediators, defenders of rights and service providers. Ms Pavlova warned of the danger of dependence of the civic sector on the state in case of state financing and of insufficient development of state capacity, if some activities are left entirely on NGOs.

In the ensuing discussion Dr Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst with the Sociological Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, re-iterated the argument that NGOs should not replace institutions in their functions established by law, but pointed out that sometimes organizations do not have sufficient resources either.

Ms Marieta Dimitrova, Legal expert with the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law, outlined the important role of NGOs as guarantor and advocate of the rights of persons deprived of legal capacity and appealed for strengthening organizations’ role in judicial proceedings. Ms Anna Andreeva and Dr Mila Mancheva expressed their opinions on the calls for project proposals, offered by the State Agency for Refugees, the requirements they pose and, in view of Dr Mancheva, the often impossible deadlines for submission of documents.

Ms Yana Sabeva, Communications Expert with the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit-Law, invited the institutional and NGO representatives to express support for the pending legislative proposals to form a Council for the development of civil society with the Council of Ministers and to create a state-financed fund to support the sustainable and innovative ideas of organizations on a competitive basis.









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events-1736Regional Media in Bulgaria: Limits of Survivalhttps://csd.bg/events/event/regional-media-in-bulgaria-limits-of-survival/In 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy conducted a survey of 179 regional media with internet platforms across all districts in Bulgaria (with the exception of Sofia city and Sofia district). The survey revealed some alarming trends with potentially damaging consequences for regional media outlets.In 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy conducted a survey of 179 regional media with internet platforms across all districts in Bulgaria (with the exception of Sofia city and Sofia district). The survey revealed some alarming trends with potentially damaging consequences for regional media outlets: there is a total lack of independence and, transparency, copyright is not respected even in media based in large regional cities. It is of crucial importance that these issues draw public attention and recommendations to the relevant authorities are made to deal with them.

To this end, on 6 October 2015, CSD with the support of Open Society Foundations Budapest and the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, held a seminar on "Regional Media in Bulgaria: the limits of survival". Dr. Lyubomir Kutin, producer and researcher of local culture, introduced the methodology of the survey itself. The current state of regional media was evaluated using the following indicators: density of media content, transparency, pluralism and debate, respect for copyright law, political and economic independence.

Regional media outlets have strong political and advertising dependencies. In terms of content, regional news and topics dominate, but often they are presented in a banal and uncritical way. Purely descriptive texts prevail over analytical content. It turns out that internet media outlets are the most frequent violators of copyright law, as they rarely mention the names of external authors. All this seriously damages the quality of media content.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at CSD, attempted to explain the reasons for the apparent crisis in regional media with the contraction of advertising budgets outside the capital. He also pointed to the technological crisis of printed media and the chaotic infrastructure as factors influencing its decline. According to Mr. Bezlov, it is vital that along with the identification of problematic areas, a discussion about possible solutions begins right away, such as the creation of networks of investigative and analytical journalists.

Mr. Spas Spasov, journalist at Morski Dnevnik painted the overall picture of regional media, focusing in particular on the problem of funding and the need for a stronger journalist community. In cases where funding is poor, media outlets are forced to seek alternative funding. Moreover, the low wages of journalists make them vulnerable to service contracts offered by the municipality or other economic benefactors. In small towns, media service contracts impose pressure on media. While this is a regulatory issue, the lack of journalistic solidarity between colleagues working in distant areas only deepens the problem.

Mr. Mehti Melikov, CEO of the National Council for Journalistic Ethics, pointed out the problem of disproportionate allocation of finances for communication strategies. He stressed the negative effect from unaccountable radio license issuing by the state in the period 1999 – 2001. Centralized management of the media business was then destabilized through mass distribution of frequencies that led to the secondary market among existing operators. In this connection, Mr. Bezlov explained the economics behind the illicit market for licenses, in result of which smaller radio stations were consumed by larger radio chains.

Assoc. Prof. Georgi Kalaglarski, representative of the Bulgarian Journalists’ Council, suggested such seminars to be held in regional cities rather than in the capital. According to him, a strategy for the development and strengthening of public media across regions is needed. One solution is through the establishment of community councils, which would allocate financial resources fairly and transparently.

Mr. Dimitar Gabrov, SEM expert and journalist, added that until there is a high degree of solidarity among journalists in Bulgaria, any improved funding system could prove inefficient. For example, by introducing a law on the protection of journalistic work this could be avoided -- rightfully earned money would come to their rightful authors, not to editors or consultants.

Ms. Maria Chereshova, chair of the Association of European Journalists, expressed the need to support funding for independent journalism. She suggested the development of “NGO journalism”, i.e. journalists who set up NGOs and apply for the financing of their own projects. There are similar models operating in other Balkan countries; however she expressed concern that decentralization in Bulgaria usually goes hand in hand with corruption.




Media coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1732Privatization of Security in Transforming Societies https://csd.bg/events/event/privatization-of-security-in-transforming-societies/The flourishing private security sector in Southeast Europe has received little attention in international and domestic policy debates on security governance despite the growing challenges and opportunities it presents to ensuring security as a public good in new democracies.The flourishing private security sector in Southeast Europe has received little attention in international and domestic policy debates on security governance despite the growing challenges and opportunities it presents to ensuring security as a public good in new democracies. The private security industry in the region has arisen relatively rapidly over a short period of time, filling the gap created by the downsizing and decentralisation of state security structures and privatisation of state owned enterprises. Although the private security workforce across the region approaches quickly or even outnumbers the police forces by several times as in the case of Bulgaria, market developments have not always been accompanied by a functioning democratic governance and oversight system, creating a plethora of risk for human rights and the democratic order.

The challenges and opportunities associated with privatization of security in transforming societies was the topic of a panel discussion at the 5th Belgrade Security Forum held between 30 September and 2 October 2015.

On 1 October 2015, Ms. Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy in cooperation with Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control and Armed Forces (DCAF) took part in the panel discussion and presented key findings of the book A Force for Good: Mapping the private security landscape in Southeast Europe. The study is the first of several forthcoming outputs from the joint initiative Private Security Research Collaboration Southeast Europe (PSRC), a DCAF-led partnership between CSD, the Belgrade Centre for Security Policies (BCSP), the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) in Albania, and the Kosovo Center for Security Studies (KCSS).

The discussion was attended by high-ranking current and former international and local security experts from the public and private sector, academics and journalists. The panellists discussed the following key issues:

  • What are the main challenges for the good governance of private security in the region?


  • What are the responsibilities of the public bodies in terms of oversight and regulation of the private security industry?


  • Are public procurement rules and regulations helping to ensure a good delivery of security?


  • How can PSCs and state actors work better together to ensure the delivery of quality security?


  • What are the opportunities of public private partnerships and what are the main obstacles when we speak of PSCs and police?


The panel moderator, Mr. Alan Bryden, Assistant Director and Head of the Public-Private Partnerships Division, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control and Armed Forces (DCAF), opened the discussion by putting forward some of the most pertinent issues and challenges in the field of private security governance. He emphasised that the number of private security companies (PSCs) is growing steadily in many states in SEE and some PSCs have taken over tasks previously performed by state security forces. While most countries do have laws that regulate the activities of PSCs, Mr. Bryden stated, there is a need for a more comprehensive discussion on the role PSCs ought to have in national security structures and what their involvement in ensuring national and human security should be like. He introduced the book A Force for Good: Mapping the private security landscape in Southeast Europe as a valuable collaborative effort that sheds light onto how PSCs operate, how governments and legislators can ensure that PSCs help increase security and how it can be guaranteed that safety needs do not become secondary to commercial considerations.

In presenting the key findings from the report Ms. Rositsa Dzhekova highlighted some key cross-cutting issues that were found to play a significant role in shaping the private security environment in all researched markets. The states share a common post-transition legacy and some have had to deal with the consequences of war. This meant that the private security sector developed rapidly against the backdrop of legal vacuum, weakened state security services and growing security concerns, while regulation has been slow to catch up. Therefore, a major regulatory challenge for the private security market has been the delicate balance of providing conditions for competitive and liberal market environment while addressing pressing issues of public security and safety. Despite some positive developments – e.g. the passing of sector-specific legislation in all researched contexts – many areas for improvement have been identified, including deficiencies in the practical implementation of regulations and licensing regimes, a large grey sector and exploitative labor practices, as well as the lack of security-related standards in public procurement. Ms. Dzhekova highlighted the ambiguous arrangement of public-private partnerships between the state and private security actors in matters of complex and strategic security issues as a persistent challenge in the sector. The system of protecting strategic infrastructure Bulgaria is a case in point. Ms. Dzhekova also stressed the importance of control and oversight of the private security market, particularly in jurisdictions where state resources for monitoring are allocated incommensurately to the size of the market and where an oversight framework has not been envisioned by the legislator.

Ms. Natasa Ignjatovic spoke on behalf of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior as a Superintendent of the Department for monitoring and oversight of private security and detectives in Police Department and Head Police Advisor. She introduced the new national regulatory framework to be implemented in Serbia by 2017. Ms. Ignjatovic illuminated some of the more specific developments within the newly passed legislation, such as extensive training requirements for guards, and highlighted the importance of having a comprehensive law regulating the private security sector, which is unprecedented for Serbia.

Mr. Branimir Bekic, Security Director/CSO, Vojvodjanska banka member of NBG group emphasized the importance of state regulations in the private security sector as a facilitator and guarantor of the efficient functioning of the business both in terms of free market and effective and orderly provision of security and guarding services to businesses, facilities and individuals. He also stated that the effective communication and cooperation between state and private actors is essential in security matters of national importance and priority, such as organized crime and financial crime.

Publication: A Force for Good: Mapping the private security landscape in Southeast Europe

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events-1744Preparation and Improvement of the Draft National Program for Prevention and Reduction of Corruption and Prevention and Reduction of Conflict of Interest 2016 – 2019https://csd.bg/events/event/preparation-and-improvement-of-the-draft-national-program-for-prevention-and-reduction-of-corruption/On 9 September 2015 Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, SELDI Coordinator and Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy and Ms. Emina Nuredinoska, Director Civil Society at SELDI partner MCIC, met with the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption in Skopje to provide input to the next Anti-Corruption Strategy.On 9 September 2015 Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, SELDI Coordinator and Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy and Ms Emina Nuredinoska, Director Civil Society at SELDI partner MCIC, met with the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption in Skopje to provide input to the next Anticorruption Strategy. The Chairman of the Commission introduced the draft new Strategy and outlined the five areas of work, on which the Commission wants to focus its activities until 2019. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov presented the SELDI work in the SEE region, and provided an outline of the key points concerning Macedonia in a regional perspective.

He noted that the strategy should try to touch upon the three top recommendations derived from the SELDI Regional Anticorruption Report:
• Effective prosecution of corrupt high-level politicians and senior civil servants is the only way to send a strong and immediate message that corruption would not be tolerated.
• An independent corruption and anti-corruption monitoring mechanism needs to be introduced on national and regional level in order to provide robust data and analysis and integrate both corruption diagnostics and anticorruption policy evaluation. The mechanism should be implemented through national and/or regional civil society organisations and networks, and should be independent of direct national government funding.
• Critical sectors with high corruption and state-capture risks, such as the energy sector, should be addressed with priority.

He praised the Commission for its hard work in preparing the initial draft of the strategy, and noted that it will require a lot of input from other representatives of the executive, as well as very good collaboration form the judiciary. He concluded his presentation by noting the importance of developing a more detailed and robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the new Strategy following best EU practices and SELDI experience.

The discussion of the new strategy continued at a practical workshop „Preparation and Improvement of the Draft National Program for Prevention and Reduction of Corruption and Prevention and Reduction of Conflict of Interest 2016 – 2019“organised by SELDI partner MCIC, OSCE and the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption on 30 September – 2 October 2015 in Struga, FYR of Macedonia.


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events-1730Dynamics of Conventional Crime in Bulgaria 2014 – 2015https://csd.bg/events/event/dynamics-of-conventional-crime-in-bulgaria-2014-2015/Crime rates in 2014 decreased compared to the record high levels of 2012. Nevertheless, the conventional crime rate remained one of the highest since 2004. Over the past year, more victims reported crimes - a sign of relative increase of confidence in the police. At the same time, there is a continuing discrepancy between data of the victimisation surveys and official police statistics.Crime rates in 2014 decreased compared to the record high levels of 2012. Nevertheless, the conventional crime rate remained one of the highest since 2004. Over the past year, more victims reported crimes - a sign of relative increase of confidence in the police. At the same time, there is a continuing discrepancy between data of the victimisation surveys and official police statistics.


The Dynamics of Conventional Crime, a sensitive issue in Bulgaria, was the topic of a discussion organized by the Center for Study of Democracy on 30 July 2015. Results of the 2015 National Crime Survey (NCS) were presented to Ms. Rumiana Bachvarova, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, as well as with senior representatives from the national police.

The discussion was opened by Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of CSD, who emphasized that the NCS is one of the most accurate tools for measuring the rate of crime in the country. The analysis of NCS results and their comparison with the official police statistics can help the authorities devise and implement efficient measures and policies.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Expert at CSD, presented the results of the NCS. The timing of the 2015 NCS coincided a period of turmoil and changes in the Ministry of Interior. Mr. Bezlov made a comparison of the trends indicated by official police statistics and the victimisation surveys over the years. He pointed out to a significant discrepancy in 2012, when police statistics indicated a continued downward trend, while NCS revealed a sharp increase in crime rates. The official statistics obviously recorded a smaller number of crimes than actually committed. This can be due to several factors: for instance, the so called “latency” – victims of crimes choose, for various reasons, not to report a crime to the police; another factor is the existence of “police filters” – crimes get reported, but are not registered by the police. According to the survey results, on average, only one out of three reported crimes gets registered. To deal with this problem, a variety of measures were proposed: performing regular regional comparisons to detect discrepancies between registered and committed crimes; comparing police statistics with 112 (emergency calls) statistics; deploying “mystery clients” in the regional police departments; and carrying out spot checks.

Chief Commissioner Georgi Kostov, Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior, presented the dynamics of crime in the country for the first half of 2015 by providing detailed statistics on the types of offences. The overall level of crime has declined by 8.4% compared to the same period last year. There is a significant decrease in the rate of certain crimes: crimes against property - 16%, robberies - 19.6%, theft - 17.7 %, etc. The rate of crime detection has increased by 6.3 points to 36.8%. However, a concern is the increase of intentional murders (incl. attempted murders) by 20% compared to the same period of 2014. As the main reasons for the decline in crime rates in 2015 Mr. Kostov outlined the reduced deployment of regular police forces at the borders, and the re-focusing of some criminals to trafficking of migrants. The falling crime rates have created favourable conditions for implementing of new measures to overcome certain weaknesses of the police. He suggested organizing and conducting awareness campaigns among citizens to promote citizens’ engagement, since without it there cannot be an effective penalty process and conviction. A new performance evaluation system is planned, introducing four criteria of effectiveness, based on the quality of investigation, search and seizure, prevention and public security. The aim is to avoid offences performed by police executives. Since the beginning of the year all documents on reported crimes are stored in a single electronic register. Additionally, interactive maps of crime are employed in order to improve the efficient use of police resources.

Chief Commissioner Hristo Terziyski, Director of the National Police, noted that one of the reasons for the discrepancies between police statistics and the survey results stems from non-compliance by victims with the proper registration process. The appointment of personnel in 12 regional directorates that speak Roma language will facilitate the process of reporting a crime by the representatives of this ethnic group. Chief Commissioner Terziyski reported an increase in the number of solved crimes, i.e. a crime where a verdict has been issued against the offenders.

In conclusion, Ms. Rumyana Bachvarova said that conventional crime is a social issue that must be solved with the efforts and close cooperation of all sectors committed to the fight against crime. For this reason, the National Council for Crime Prevention has been restored. She confirmed the importance of monitoring the regional statistics and providing an explanation for the respective trends. Ms. Bachvarova thanked the Center for the Study of Democracy for the good work and said that the NCS represents an alternative tool for crime measurement which can be used to assess police statistics. As the public perception of crime is influenced by subjective factors, such as the high sensitivity to this issue, the implementation of targeted and long-term efforts to boost confidence in the police institution and its employees is of utmost importance.

CSD Policy Brief No. 56: Динамика на конвенционалната престъпност 2014 - 2015 г. (in Bulgarian)
Media coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1728National Study on Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (DGBV) and Development of Victim Support Model (VSM)https://csd.bg/events/event/national-study-on-domestic-and-gender-based-violence-dgbv-and-development-of-victim-support-model/The Center for the Study of Democracy, Partners-Bulgaria Foundation and Human Rights Academy, Norway launched a National Study on Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (DGBV) and Development of Victim Support Model (VSM) funded under Program BG 12 “Domestic and Gender-Based Violence” in accordance with the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014.The Center for the Study of Democracy, Partners-Bulgaria Foundation and Human Rights Academy, Norway launched a National Study on Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (DGBV) and Development of Victim Support Model (VSM) funded under Program BG 12 “Domestic and Gender-Based Violence” in accordance with the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014.

Initiator of the study is the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria and it is set to conclude in April 2016. The main aims are to contribute to the prevention of domestic and gender-based violence and to improve the situation of the victims in Bulgaria, with a specific focus on Roma women and girls. The activities, that will be implemented to achieve these objectives include:
• Legal, institutional and policy analyses
• Quantitative and Qualitative Research
• Development and piloting of a Victim Support Model
• Generating specific recommendations
• Advocacy and dissemination activities

The main target groups of the study are victims of domestic and gender-based violence in the country in general, among Roma communities and those placed in crisis centers. The results of the research will be disseminated among a wide range of experts and stakeholders - police officers, social workers, child protection specialists, specialists in crisis centers, local communities and other organizations working in the field.

The study partners will strive to contribute to the development of knowledge and experience regarding the prevention and response to domestic violence and gender-based violence in the country. As a result of the research, a comprehensive and independent analysis will be compiled and made available to all interested parties in order to facilitate making more informed and evidence-based policy decisions. Additionally, the acquired data and experience will serve to develop and test a Victim Support Model, whose purpose will be to engage both local communities and key stakeholders in the country with the issue at hand, especially the need for protection of victims of domestic and gender-based violence.

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events-1726Making Bulgaria’s Anticorruption Policy Work: Sharing Experiences from European Success Storieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/making-bulgarias-anticorruption-policy-work-sharing-experiences-from-european-success-stories/The challenge of corruption stands high on the political agenda, both in Bulgaria and on EU level. Experience shows that successful action against corruption is not preceded by improvement of economic conditions, on the contrary – designing and implementing effective anticorruption policies is the precondition for economic growth. The challenge of corruption stands high on the political agenda, both in Bulgaria and on EU level. Experience shows that successful action against corruption is not preceded by improvement of economic conditions, on the contrary – designing and implementing effective anticorruption policies is the precondition for economic growth. The good news for Bulgaria is that it can relatively easily and with notable success implement a number of instruments for analysis of corruption risks, which could contribute to improvement of governance. These are some of the main conclusions from the round table discussion hosted by the Center for the Study of Democracy on 28 July 2015 . Among others, participants included the Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva and leading academics and experts from Europe’s largest research project on anticorruption – ANTICORRP. The main focus of the event fell on the anticorruption success stories and best practices for the development of sound anticorruption policies in Bulgaria. CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov noted that anticorruption is one of the most urgent national policy priorities that remain unresolved. DPM Kuneva acknowledged that the two most immediate next reform steps of the government, judicial reform and tackling high level corruption, are effectively the two sides of one coin.

Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi provided the keynote presentatiuon, “Who Succeeded and Why in Curbing Corruption in Europe and Globally”, noting the importance of moving away from a subjective to an objective approach when dealing with anticorruption policies. Estonia was presented as the biggest success case in the world having seen its GDP climb spectacularly since moving forward from corruption after seceding from the former Soviet Union. Professor Mungiu-Pippidi stressed the importance of political decisions to tackle corruption coming first. Provided there is a political will to change away from corruption, economic development follows. Thus in a matter of two decades Estonia grew from one of the poorest regions in Europe to surpassing some of the regions of the old member-states. To improve, Bulgaria must reduce the opportunities for corruption, including: red tape, lack of transparency, concentrated power, large amounts of discretionary funds, and foreign aid, etc.

To help measure corruption, she emphasized the importance of having clear and objective indicators that tell whether a country is changing or not. This strategy includes measuring: - The percentage of people who get favoritism in contracts from the government (public procurement) because they’re connected (either politically or via bribe); - Favoritism in public service allocation to citizens, e.g. in policing, education healthcare, etc.; - Favoritism in transfers to sub-national government, i.e. choosing to fund local governments depending on whether they belong to the ruling majority and not on the acuteness of the need of the local population; - Favoritism in legislation: the designing of laws, which favour select few at the expense of the public good.

In his presentation, “Using Big Data in Public Procurement to Detect Corruption & Collusion Risks”, Dr. Mihaly Fazekas underlined the tools and applications available in dealing with corruption. Tools included: red flags such as single bid submissions to public procurement tenders, government favoritism, political ties, and inter-bidder collusion. Potential applications for Bulgaria to use in measuring its corruption include: readily available data (TED data) and indicators, single bidding, simple risk indices, market shares, excessive spending on consultancy, and data collection, etc. Dr. Fazekas demonstrated a regional map of Bulgaria showing the distribution of single bidding at regional level, which largely confirmed widespread anecdotal evidence about favouritism in Bulgaria.

According to Dr. Nicholas Charron, including impartiality of the public administration and the extent to which services are applied equally to all people serves a strong purpose when dealing with corruption. In his report on the Quality of Government in 206 European Regions, he demonstrates that GDP per capita and unemployment rates often differ more within a country’s regions than between countries. The European Quality of Government Index (EQI) looks at citizen perceptions and experiences when dealing with corruption and quality of services. Education, law enforcement and health care are key measurement tools as opposed to customs and judiciary measures, which are more nationally driven. In Bulgaria, people rate education, health care, and law enforcement services among the lowest in the EU but there are also notable variations between Bulgaria’s regions, which leaves room for nationally driven mutual learning between them.

Dr. Alexander Gerganov from the Center for the Study of Democracy closed the round table with a presentation on CSDs Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) tool. MACPI allows policy makers to assess whether they have put anticorruption measures in place, which address the most acute corruption problems, and whether the implementation of these measures brings effective results. A time trend is needed to see how new anticorruption policies change the corruption pressure for different institutions.

Report: Monitoring Anti-Corruption in Europe. Bridging Policy Evaluation and Corruption Measurement

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events-1724Countering Radicalisation in Southeast and Central Europe through Development of (Counter-) Radicalisation Monitoring Toolhttps://csd.bg/events/event/countering-radicalisation-in-southeast-and-central-europe-through-development-of-counter-radicali/On 29th and 30th of June 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted the first workshop along the international initiative for development of a tool for monitoring of radicalisation trends in South East and Central Europe.On 29 and 30 of June 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted the first Workshop along the international initiative for development of a tool for monitoring of radicalisation trends in South East and Central Europe. The following partners took part in the meeting: Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program, Rositsa Dzhekova, Coordinator of the Security Program, Emil Tsenkov, Senior Fellow at the Security Program, Miryana Ilcheva, Research Fellow at the Law program, Maria Doychinova, Analyst at the Law program, Lubomira Derelieva, Analyst at the Law program and Yavor Tomov, Analyst at the Security Program from the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria; Dia Anagnostou and Dimitris Scleparis from ELIAMEP, Greece; Ludek Moravec and Oldrich Krulik from Charles University, Prague. The workshop involved the presentation of progress results from national background studies on right and left wing radicalisation, Islamist radicalisation and football hooliganism. In addition a discussion was held regarding the most relevant types of monitoring tools to be adapted to the national contexts of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece.

In the first two sessions of the workshop the Bulgarian and the Czech research teams presented their findings with regarding to radicalisation trends in respectively Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Lubomira Derelieva, Maria Doychinova, Mila Mancheva and Yavor Tomov (CSD, Bulgaria) discussed trends in left wing, right wing, Islamist radicalisation and football hooliganism in Bulgaria. Ludek Moravec and Oldrich Krulik (CUNI, Czech Republic) presented findings regarding radicalisation trends in the same spheres in the Czech Republic. Researchers from both teams discussed the ideas, the actors, the organisational structures, the repertoire of actions and the groups at risk of radicalisation in each of the two Member States. Both teams reported stronger manifestations and structures of the far right as opposed to weaker presence of radical left groups in the two countries. Researchers from CSD stressed that the study in Bulgaria is a pioneer attempt to address the topic of radicalisation in Bulgaria with very little research being conducted to this moment. The researchers from both teams closed the sessions by discussing gaps and achievements in the institutional response to violent and non-violent actions related to processes of radicalisation.

The 30th June session was opened by Dia Anagnostou and Dimitris Scleparis (ELIAMEP, Greece) who discussed radicalisation trends in Greece. They argued that opposite to Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, the Greek case presents a historically stronger presence of far left and anarchist groups, involving political violence. Far right groups on the other hand become more prominent in the last years in the context of the economic crisis. Dimitris Scleparis reported that when discussing football hooliganism Greek scholars tend to focus on the media`s representation of hooliganism and on the various political and police counter-hooliganism responses.

The last Workshop session was headed by Rositsa Dzhekova, who presented an overview of counter-radicalisation approaches and monitoring tools developed in EU Member States and mainly designed to address issues related of Islamist radicalisation. Ms. Dzhekova discussed four main approaches to countering radicalisation in the EU: general crime prevention and social policy approach, securitized approach, social integration-linked approach and multi-agent and multi-level approach. Following short presentations of the gaps in monitoring radicalisation in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece, the session was concluded by a discussion about the most relevant monitoring approaches to be adopted in the three countries.



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events-1722China’s Anti-Corruption Drivehttps://csd.bg/events/event/chinas-anti-corruption-drive/Viewed by the current leadership as a major threat to the country’s social and economic development, corruption remains one of China’s most pressing concerns. To discuss the scope and complexity of the Chinese anti-corruption campaign and its results and outcomes, on 25 June 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a delegation from the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS) for the third time.Viewed by the current leadership as a major threat to the country’s social and economic development, corruption remains one of China’s most pressing concerns. To discuss the scope and complexity of the Chinese anti-corruption campaign and its results and outcomes, on 25 June 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a delegation from the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS) for the third time. The delegation, headed by Dr. Hu Hao, Deputy Director General of CCCWS, included also Dr. Wang Yiwei, Director of China-Europe Academic Network and Professor at Renmin University, Ms. Xu Xu, Director of Exchange and cooperation of CCCWS, Dr. Zheng Dongchao, Third Secretary of CCCWS, and Ms. Nie Shengquan, Research Fellow at the CCCWS. The meeting was a follow up to the discussions held during the previous visits of the CCCWS delegation at CSD that took place on May 25, 2011 and October 3, 2012.

On the CSD side the meeting was attended by Dr. Ognian Shentov, CSD Chairman, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of CSD Economic Program, Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, CSD Director of Research, Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of CSD Law Program, Dr. Emil Tsenkov and Gen. Chavdar Chervenkov, Senior Fellows at CSD Security Program, Mr. Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at CSD Economic Program, Ms. Zoya Damianova, Program Director at ARC Fund, and Mr. Ventseslav Kozarev and Mr. Iasen Nestorov, Research Fellows at ARC Fund.

Dr. Shentov welcomed the delegation and opened the discussion by identifying various strategic fields of common interest, focusing on anti-corruption in particular. Stressing that corruption continues to be a major social and political issue both in China and Bulgaria, he drew the attention to the Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) tool developed by CSD that evaluates the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures at public institutions. Dr. Shentov emphasized on the positive reception that the innovative tool has received from the Bulgarian government and also from the European Commission, where it has been presented earlier this month. Dr. Stoyanov introduced the main characteristics and indicators of MACPI along with the results of its pilot implementation in Bulgaria and Italy, and focused on the applicability of the tool in various environments.

Dr. Hu Hao showed appreciation for the invitation and spoke on future connectivity and cooperation opportunities in the frame of China’s “One Belt and One Road initiative”. He pointed out that China is facing increasing challenges with regard to corruption and that the MACPI methodology potentially has a lot to offer to the strong anti-corruption campaign that is currently taking place in China. Dr. Hao brought into focus the series of strict laws, regulations and measures introduced by the new Chinese leadership lead by President Xi Jinping, aimed at investigating and prosecuting low and high level government, military and state-owned company officials involved in corrupt activities. By going after both high-ranking party leaders and petty bureaucrats, or “swatting flies and hunting tigers” in the modern parlance, the current anti-corruption drive has yielded impressive results as thousands of officials from every region have been swept up in the campaign. Dr. Hao also underlined that the Chinese government does not target only domestic corruption and regional protectionism but also hunts corrupt suspects that have fled overseas to avoid punishment.

With the aim of exchanging good practices and enhancing the professional expertise of both organizations in view of the increasing importance of political, economic and cultural relations between China and Bulgaria, Dr. Hao and Dr. Shentov signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation between CCCWS and CSD. As a leading Bulgarian non-profit research organization, CSD constantly aims at fostering the reform process in Bulgaria through impact on policy and civil society. CSD has pioneered in several areas traditionally perceived as the inviolable public property, such as anti-corruption monitoring, energy sector governance, institutional reform, and national security. The Partners view these areas of expertise as an appropriate fit to the mission of CCCWS to study political systems in foreign countries through monitoring social and political trends and conducting comparative studies, which leaves the door for future collaboration wide open. Both sides have agreed to continue the dialogue and to work together in the true spirit of partnership in order to ensure a mutually enriching and successful cross-cultural collaboration in the future.

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events-1720Establishment of Hidden Economy Task Force in the Republic of Macedoniahttps://csd.bg/events/event/establishment-of-hidden-economy-task-force-in-the-republic-of-macedonia/On 19 June 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Center for Research and Policy Making held a conference on developing a hidden economy task force in the Republic of Macedonia. On 19 June 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Center for Research and Policy Making held a conference on developing a hidden economy task force in the Republic of Macedonia.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at CSD suggested that governmental institutions reach consensus on hidden economy issues and express their joint view in the framework of one single body. He stressed that the hidden economy will be a policy concern in the decade to come. In that context, the role of the hidden economy task force will be to consider and promote not only punitive measures, but also motivational policies and incentives that can encourage positive economic growth.

Ms. Marija Risteska, Director of the Center for Research and Policy Making reinforced the task force idea as a knowledge exchange platform, as well as a nucleus for encouraging cooperation, generation of recommendations and measures that can be forwarded or presented to the Economic and Social Council at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP).

Mr. Emil Shurkov, Analyst at the Center for Research and Policy Making, stressed that the phenomena affects the most vulnerable groups such as the young, unemployed, and the poor. He presented an analysis of the policies applied in Macedonia and data from a survey on the hidden economy. According to the survey, a third of the employed receive “envelope wages”, and more than half of the employed have “contracts with hidden clauses.” Education plays a significant role in determining the share of workers having written labor contracts. For instance, only 44% of the workers with primary education have a written contract. This share increases to 81% for secondary and 93.5% for tertiary education. Startlingly, these figures are even more dramatic when the ethnic background and distrust in the policy-makers is taken into consideration.

Ms. Snezana Denkovska, Director of the Chamber of Crafts, emphasized the importance of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP) and its inspectorates, and its key role in providing authority and operational viability of the Hidden Economy Task Force.

Mr. Rade Nenadic, Director of the Employment Agency (AVP) noted that it is very easy and inexpensive to register a company in Macedonia, nevertheless, the laws that govern the defaulting, bankruptcy and closure of companies are a huge obstacle to the formalization, resulting in entrepreneurs having no incentive to invest. Furthermore, the employer cannot be forced to stop the practice of cashing out envelope wages, because the Public Revenue Office (PRO) does not have the legal jurisdiction to interfere in these cases. In this respect, collaboration between PRO and MLSP is crucial to tackle the problem of the “envelope wages”.

Ms Slavica Kiroska from the Public Revenue Office (PRO) discussed how motivational campaigns are used by the PRO to encourage companies to register their economic activity. For example, unregistered subjects are given a certain amount of time where they can legally register their activity without any fear of legal prosecution. The action plan has a methodology of how to evaluate the effectiveness of its activities, and it is a good framework for tackling some aspects of the hidden economy in Macedonia.

Ms. Biljana Chklamovska, legal expert at the Union of Independent and Autonomous Trade Unions of Macedonia (UNASM) stated that despite the existing various active employment measures, the share of undeclared workers is still high. She suggested having a smaller, more compact and flexible task force, which will increase its efficiency. Ms Chklamovska suggested a government-funded awareness campaign pioneered by the task force that could potentially reach most, if not all of the citizens in the Macedonian economy.


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events-1718Improving Identification and Assistance, and Avoiding Stigmatization on Child Trafficking among Vulnerable Roma Communitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/improving-identification-and-assistance-and-avoiding-stigmatization-on-child-trafficking-among-vuln/Trafficking in children and the three forms of exploitation that they most often fall victim to: begging, pickpocketing and sexual exploitation of boys have remained outside the focus of policy and research agenda. Furthermore, despite being overwhelmingly represented in all forms of trafficking the Roma remain isolated and stigmatized and there is a lack of understanding of the multiple vulnerability factors that affect them. Trafficking in children and the three forms of exploitation that they most often fall victim to: begging, pickpocketing and sexual exploitation of boys have remained outside the focus of policy and research agenda. Furthermore, despite being overwhelmingly represented in all forms of trafficking the Roma remain isolated and stigmatized and there is a lack of understanding of the multiple vulnerability factors that affect them. To fill the gaps in this knowledge research work was undertaken in seven EU member states, both countries of origin (Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia) and destination (Austria, Greece, Italy).

To present the findings of the research and put forward policy recommendations, an international conference Child Trafficking among Vulnerable Roma Communities was hosted by the Center for the Study of Democracy in Sofia on June 16 and 17, 2015. The Conference gathered all project partners (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, Censis, Eliamep, CEPS-CEU, People in Need and Soros Foundation Romania) as well as partner organisations working directly in Roma communities and representatives of service providers and national stakeholders. It also included representatives of relevant Bulgarian stakeholders such as the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB), the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP), the Agency for Social Assistance (ASA), Chief Directorate Border Police (CDBP) and Chief Directorate Combating Organized Crime (CDCOC) at the Ministry of Interior, the National Employment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The conference was opened by Ms. Yva Alexandrova, who outlined the scope of the work undertaken covering the three under-researched forms of trafficking in children for the purpose of begging, pickpocketing and sexual exploitation of boys. She outlined how the lack of knowledge on victims’ profiles, vulnerability factors and recruitment strategies affects the identification of victims and the adequate provision of assistance. She elaborated that the focus on Roma in these particular forms of trafficking was driven by expert opinions and previous research, which revealed a significant over-representation of Roma children among victims of trafficking for pickpocketing and begging, furthermore, the sexual exploitation of boys and transgender persons was first identified within the framework of the project as a risk group for trafficking. This calls for specific attention to be devoted to the vulnerabilities that the Roma face, the risk factors and the mechanisms of recruitment and exploitation.

Ms. Alexandrova also outlined the innovative approach of using participatory research methods when working with sensitive issues, such as child trafficking in Roma communities. This included the involvement of partners that work in various Roma communities, the conduct of extensive field work in communities, carrying out focus groups discussions with community representatives, mapping and ranking exercises, collection of life stories and involvement of community researchers. This approach helps gain deeper understanding of the phenomena and prevents further reinforcing of existing stereotypes and stigmatisation. It also allows for a more contextualised analysis of the data gathered and the development of specific community-based recommendations.

The second opening statement was delivered by Ms. Dimitrova presented the Bulgarian national context and the three forms of children trafficking studied during the research. She called it an ambitious initiative as it pays specific attention to particularly vulnerable groups at risk and for adopting both victim centered approach and employing participatory research methods. Ms. Dimitrova shared that the Commission has already planned to organise two awareness raising and training events as well as to incorporate the knowledge gathered during this research into their future initiatives. She stated that the Commission intends to open the doors to the Expert Group to new members coming from Roma civil society organisations working directly in communities, with the aim of ensuring their participation in national policy making in the area of anti-trafficking.

The opening of the conference was followed by three panel discussions. The first panel discussion was on the topic Vulnerabilities to trafficking for sexual exploitation of boys: a perspective from Hungary and Bulgaria. The moderator presented the background outlining that there is no big caseload but there are individual cases in Bulgaria and Romania. The panellists shared that there are cases of victims identified during the criminal proceedings who did not receive any support and assistance after that, as there are no existing mechanisms. In general the institutions are unable to identify the children victims of this form of exploitation, especially concerning boys. In Bulgaria were conducted interviews and collected life-stories of transgender persons from Roma origin, which indicate the existence of this phenomenon and point to possible cases of exploitation and trafficking abroad. There is also consequently no knowledge of their socio-economic background. A common recruitment strategy that was mentioned in Hungary is coming from peers in foster care homes. In the following discussion representatives from the partnering Roma organisations in Bulgaria shared their experience from the research.

The second panel discussion was on the topic Differentiating child begging from trafficking of children for the purpose of begging exploitation: perspectives from Austria, Greece and Italy. The moderator presented the background of the topic outlining that in destination countries the number of registered case of child trafficking for begging has declined. At the same time, proxy data coming from service providers and NGOs indicates that these activities are not diminishing, on the contrary are on the rise. All panelists outlined that a common problem is the lack of ethnically disaggregated data but proxy data shows that the victims of trafficking for begging are mainly of Roma origin. A new trend is that children are accompanied by their parents or extended family relatives which makes the analysis of the cases very difficult because the children might be involved in begging as a survival strategy of the family. This should not be mixed with trafficking for the purpose of forced begging exploitation. Distinguishing those two is very hard and one suggestion on how to handle the situation is looking carefully on case-by-case basis trying to find key elements which will lead to one of the two possible phenomena.

The third panel discussion was on the topic Challenges in identifying child victims of trafficking for pickpocketing: perspectives from Romania and Slovakia. The moderator presented the background of the topic outlining that trafficking for pickpocketing is a form of exploitation which is difficult to identify as the child has to be caught in the moment of the act. As a consequence there are no investigations, as this is difficult to establish. The panellists shared that victim profiles relate mainly to boys, the age varies between 5 and 18 with 13-14 being the most common. The data collected shows that traffickers are very much aware of the legislation and this makes it even harder to identify trafficking cases.

The working group discussions on June 17 focused on: Improving identification of children victims of trafficking for pickpocketing, begging and sexual exploitation of boys, Addressing challenges in providing effective and sustainable assistance to children victims of trafficking and Ensuring community participation in counter trafficking measures. The main objectives of the discussions was to engage service providers and state institutions in identifying the main challenges and stakeholders, as well as propose concrete areas for bi-lateral cooperation. The recommendations that came up at the end of the session concerned harmonization of knowledge, filling in gaps in legislation and improving coordination among all stakeholders especially among social services and child protection authorities stressing on the need of building trust, also developing a methodology on an EU level on bringing together social inclusion and anti-trafficking measures. A recommendation towards Roma communities points on the need to acknowledge the existence of children trafficking and to get more involved in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, carrying out role-modeled campaigns, establishing centres for community development and multi-functional teams of experts.

After the presentation of the conclusions from the working group sessions Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova outlined policy recommendations to improve victim identification and child trafficking response mechanisms. Among the presented recommendations were developing training on recognising indicators of exploitation and trafficking for the purpose of begging for local and national authorities; involving Roma community based organisations in raising awareness among the most marginalised groups on the risks of exploitation through bonded labour, on the negative effects on the children from hazardous and street work and on the possibilities for assistance; and strengthening investigation efforts to “follow the money” and investigate sources of conspicuous wealth in migrating communities.

Child Trafficking Among Vulnerable Roma Communities: Results of Country Studies in 7 EU Member States
Child Trafficking Among Vulnerable Groups: Country Report Bulgaria

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events-1716New Policy Evaluation Tool for Monitoring Anticorruption Enforcementhttps://csd.bg/events/event/new-policy-evaluation-tool-for-monitoring-anticorruption-enforcement/That it is the enforcement of anticorruption policies which needs to be prioritised is now de rigueur in the anticorruption community. This received wisdom, however, has not been followed up by the development of advanced tools for monitoring this enforcement. Both policies and measurements of corruption have remained at the general societal level, with little focus on specific loci, actors or circumstances. In order to upgrade its effectiveness, the anticorruption effort needs to concentrate on the most appropriate level – the individual public organisation.That it is the enforcement of anticorruption policies which needs to be prioritised is now de rigueur in the anticorruption community. This received wisdom, however, has not been followed up by the development of advanced tools for monitoring this enforcement. Both policies and measurements of corruption have remained at the general societal level, with little focus on specific loci, actors or circumstances. In order to upgrade its effectiveness, the anticorruption effort needs to concentrate on the most appropriate level – the individual public organisation.

This is exactly what the Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) – a tool recently developed by the Center for the Study of Democracy and University of Trento experts – allows policy makers to achieve. It is an instrument for a complete anticorruption overhaul of public organisations by taking stock of the effectiveness of institutional policies and their relevance to actual corruption vulnerabilities within the organisation.

On June 12, 2015 MACPI was presented in Brussels to an audience of senior civil servants from the European Commission and other EU institutions, representatives of NGOs and diplomatic missions, and academics. The event also served as an EU-wide platform to present the results of the pilot implementation of MACPI in Bulgaria and Italy.

„Innovative research is needed to support the work of the European Commission in the development of evidence-based anticorruption policy.“ These were the opening lines of Ms. Anabela Gago, Head of the Organised Crime Unit at the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs at the policy forum on anticorruption enforcement. Ms. Gago highlighted that the 2014 EU Anticorruption report evidenced that in most EU member states anti-corruption legislation is in place, but implementation is not as effective as required. In this regard, she recognized that the development of a practical tool for monitoring anti-corruption enforcement is welcomed as it can be adapted to the situations in various countries and institutions.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at CSD, underlined that the MACPI tool’s main advantage is that it allows evaluators and policy designers to gain an insight into the arguably key factor for the success or failure of anticorruption efforts: the processes and implementation procedures in public organisations. He also noted that a shift of focus from the national to the institutional level will benefit the EU anticorruption efforts as well. The significance of the public institution level in anticorruption has been recognised in the EU Anticorruption Report, which acknowledges that corruption can be reduced by preventive systems and practices involving the suppliers and recipients of public services.

Prof. Andrea di Nicola from University of Trento added that in the case of Italy the MACPI tool came at a time when there was overproduction of anticorruption efforts and no instruments to steer and guide public officials how to apply these measures. He also highlighted that the development of the tool was an innovative exercise, during which anticorruption theories were tested and put into action. During the implementation phase, they were surprised by the openness of public officials. This can be explained with the fact that the tool is adapted to the organisations’ needs in close cooperation with the officials and they perceived it not as a top-down imposed measure, but as a tailor-made instrument. Dr. Fabrizio Costantino of the University of Trento illustrated these conclusions by making a brief review of the results of MACPI implementation in Italy.

“If the MACPI tool is applied for a longer period of time, it has the potential to become a goldmine for corruption studies,” said Prof. Alberto Vannucci, Lecturer at University of Pisa and member of MACPI advisory board. He recommended that at the next stage of development of the tool, an integration of some objective indicators would be very useful. Another important aspect of MACPI tools that should not be underestimated is that its use can symbolize the commitment of top level officials to fight corruption.

Dr. Andrey Ivanov, Head of the Roma and Migrant Integration Sector at the Fundamental Rights Agency highlighted that corruption undermines one of the fundamental civic rights – the right to good governance. In this regard, there are many similarities between the work FRA is doing on developing common indicators for Roma integration and what MACPI is trying to do in the area of anti-corruption. There are increasing number of bottlenecks at local level, which create huge gaps between policies and implementation. MACPI is an excellent example of an effort to understand what the reasons behind this phenomenon are.

According to Mr. Carl Dolan, Director of the EU office of Transparency International the implementation of the tool in private companies and in EU institutions could also be considered. Dr. Maria Popova, Researcher at McGill University in Canada, highlighted that the application of the tool in the same institution over certain periods of time would provide the most valuable information on the effectiveness of anticorruption measures.

The discussion further focused on the possible follow ups and the applicability of the tool in various environments. Its potential for benchmarking the same organisation over time and similar organisations within and across countries was a matter of further debate. Also discussed was the usefulness of MACPI in the context of other European Commission supported initiatives, such as the Southeast Europe Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) which includes a substantial anticorruption effort.

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events-1714Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation: Methodology and First Stepshttps://csd.bg/events/event/monitoring-anticorruption-policy-implementation-methodology-and-first-steps/The Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) supplies evaluators and policy makers with a precision instrument for assessing the design and impact of anticorruption policies at the point of their actual enforcement – the individual public organisation. MACPI is capable of identifying the specific zones of corruption vulnerability in public organisations and assessing the policies that target these vulnerabilities.The Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) supplies evaluators and policy makers with a precision instrument for assessing the design and impact of anticorruption policies at the point of their actual enforcement – the individual public organisation. MACPI is capable of identifying the specific zones of corruption vulnerability in public organisations and assessing the policies that target these vulnerabilities.

The application of the tool involves several modules, each having a specific function in the final assessment of the corruption vulnerability and the effectiveness and implementation of anticorruption policies. The first stage is the assessment of corruption vulnerability, which estimates the likelihood of corrupt transactions in a public organisation. Higher vulnerability is associated with higher corruption risk. At the next stage, the structure of the corruption interest is mapped, as this provides information on the theoretical possibility of all types of corruption transactions for each of the activities of the public organisation. Thirdly, anticorruption policies employed at the organization are identified. Then an evaluation of the anticorruption policies is made by looking at the following indicators: the degree to which corruption zones are covered by general and specific anticorruption policies; implementability and actual implementation of anticorruption policies; the degree to which they reduce corruption pressure.

Throughout its stages of development the tool was consulted with leading international experts with various background. As part of these consultations, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized an expert workshop on June 5, 2015. During the event international experts shared their views on the future development of the tool and its applicability in different sectors.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at CSD, explained that the tool is designed for public institutions with a view to finding gaps in anticorruption policy implementation. MACPI can be used by an organisation to assess changes in its anticorruption policy setup – new policies, potential vulnerabilities, etc. It is flexible and could be used with minimum adaptation in various types of public organisations. Dr. Stoyanov explained the main theoretical assumptions when developing the tool, including the hypothesis that corrupt behaviour is located at the level of public organisations. He clarified the form and content of corruption exchanges of resources, as well as the concepts of corruption interest and corruption vulnerability.

Mr. Alexander Gerganov, Researcher at CSD, underlined a number of additional benefits of the tool, including comparisons of corruption risk among institutions and sectors, existing anticorruption policies’ scores and the dynamics within a given institution over time. He made a brief review of the results of the pilot implementation of the tool in Bulgarian institutions.

Prof. Umberto Triulzi from Sapienza University of Rome made a distinction between corruption policies that are internal and external to a government organization. He also stressed on the need of establishing the volume of transactions that take place at a given institution, as higher volumes suggest a higher corruption risk. The researchers who worked on the development of the tool agreed that this can be an additional feature to an upgraded MACPI.


The Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) tool can be very useful, if it is applied in institutions regulating the energy sector. This is the opinion of Mr. Reinis Aboltins, a researcher at the Centre for Public Policy – Providus, Latvia. He added that this would require an adaptation of the tool to the specificities of the energy market.

Mr. Jean-Arnold Vinois from Notre-Europe Jacques Delors Institute was interested in the reasons behind the high levels of corruption registered in Bulgaria in 2014 in comparison to the relatively positive trends during the previous years. The spike in corruption, it was explained, could be attributed to the unstable political situation in Bulgaria that period.

Mr. Aare Kasemets from the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences highlighted that MACPI has adopted a very interesting approach that he believed would prove very valuable in the future. The practical aspects that have come up during the implementation phase, namely the issue of “institutional patriotism”, raise a lot of question marks, but these issues could be resolved during the next stage of development of the tool.

Mr. Erik Csernovitz, Deputy Secretary General of the Central European Initiative, noted that MACPI team should look for opportunities for application of the tool in institutions in EU candidate countries.

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events-1710Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/monitoring-anticorruption-policy-implementation/On 2 June 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table to present the Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) tool and the results of its application in the Bulgarian Border Police.On 2 June 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table to present the Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) tool and the results of its application in the Bulgarian Border Police.


The round table was opened by Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, who emphasized that CSD has fifteen years of experience in corruption monitoring and analysis. Building upon this experience, CSD has developed an innovative tool that evaluates the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures at public institutions.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at CSD, explained that the MACPI tool was designed to reveal both deficiencies in the implementation of anti-corruption measures and in the measures themselves. MACPI measures the following four indicators of effectiveness at institutional level: adequacy of anti-corruption policies, implementability, implementation, and ultimately, whether they reduce corruption interest and corruption pressure. The tool takes into account the level of corruption involvement both at a national and institutional level. Results from the 2015 national survey showed that about 18% of the population have taken part in a corruption transaction, and about 27% have experienced corruption pressure. Over the years, levels of corruption have fluctuated significantly, showing no lasting positive trend. Regarding the results on the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures, Dr. Stoyanov reported that the majority of existing policies are formally applied and more systematic control of the implementation of the measures is required. An example of such a measure is the submission of annual declarations of assets and income and the requirement for managers to control the process. However, results are still ambiguous because if the declarations are not properly verified, the managers can not use this tool to combat corruption.

Mr. Alexander Gerganov, researcher at CSD, noted that MACPI was developed with the rationale to be implemented periodically in order to monitor progress in the application of anti-corruption policies. At present, the pilot implementation of the tool is used to assess the current state of anti-corruption policy in a certain state institution, and to fine tune the methodology of MACPI. For the first time a tool of this nature applies quantitative methods among employees of public institutions to evaluate corruption. In this regard, one of the crucial issues in the implementation of MACPI was whether employees would be sincere enough. So far, the analysis shows that to a large extent they are as sincere as the population in general. As far as the results of the MACPI implementation in Border Police are concerned, corruption pressure appears high in all activities of the structure, including activities that were not considered particularly risky during initial evaluations. Furthermore, there is an urgent need of specific anti-corruption policies to address certain activities.

Lieutenant General (Ret'd) Chavdar Chervenkov, Senior Expert at CSD Security Program, opened the discussion by expressing gratitude for the cooperation of Border Police and all other institutions, which applied or will be applying the MACPI tool. He stressed that effective results can only be achieved through goodwill and close cooperation with the institutions.

Ms. Eleonora Nikolova, Director of the Center for Prevention and Combating of Corruption and Organised Crime (CPCCO), congratulated the authors of the methodology and noted that CPCCO is also working on corruption risk assessment and anti-corruption measures. Integrity tests and decision journals were quoted as examples of potential anti-corruption measures.

Mrs. Sylvia Kadreva, Director of the Public Register Directorate at the National Audit Office, clarified that the Directorate has an automated system for reporting and verification of declarations of assets and income, which guarantees the rigorous check of each individual document. Based on this experience, she suggested that the deployment of similar automatic systems at all levels of the state administration would eventually lead to much greater effectiveness of the measure.

Ms. Rumiana Bachvarova, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, stressed that the MACPI tool can be extremely valuable to state institutions as it allows to focus on details and existing anti-corruption measures, as well as the formulation of new policies. Corrupt practices are always ahead of anti-corruption measures, and therefore in combatting corruption, it is crucial to follow the dynamics of the environment in which they develop. In general, it is important that tools like MACPI are applied systematically, because the establishment of a trend is more important than the absolute value of the assessment at a given time. The survey at the Border Police was conducted several months ago and since then changes have taken place. Their effectiveness can be assessed, if the tool is applied again. Ms. Bachvarova pointed out that with the development of the MACPI tool, the Center for the Study of Democracy has once again demonstrated its leadership in combating corruption.

Report Monitoring Anti-Corruption in Europe. Bridging Policy Evaluation and Corruption Measurement
Media coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1708Child Trafficking among Vulnerable Roma Communitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/child-trafficking-among-vulnerable-roma-communities/On 29 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised in Brussels a policy forum addressing three new forms of trafficking in persons: child trafficking for begging, for pickpocketing and for sexual exploitation of boys and the way they manifest themselves among Roma communities.On 29 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised in Brussels a policy forum addressing three new forms of trafficking in persons: child trafficking for begging, for pickpocketing and for sexual exploitation of boys and the way they manifest themselves among Roma communities. The policy forum presented the final results and the key recommendations of an international comparative study conducted in seven EU Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia), before key stakeholders at EU level.

The policy forum was opened by Dr Helmut Sax, GRETA Member and Head of Department on Child Rights, Women’s Rights and Human Trafficking at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, Austria, who gave the policy perspective of the topic. Among the key recommendations Dr Sax presented are empowerment of child right holders through participation of victims in decision-making (incl. through Roma community leaders, mediators, civil society, service providers) and accountability of duty bearers through ensuring cross-border cooperation of child welfare/child protection authorities, in order to prevent re-trafficking.

The academic perspective of the conducted study was presented by Dr Brenda Oude Breuil, Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Dr Breuil is also a member of the Advisory Board of the CONFRONT project. She stressed the importance of using participatory research method when working with sensitive topics, such as trafficking. This method reduces the chances of further stigmatization and ensures that Roma are first to benefit from research results. Some of the challenges in using participatory research methods are the threat of strengthening the taboo on child trafficking in Roma communities and further reinforcing existing inequities.

Ms Yva Alexandrova, senior analyst at CSD, outlined the factors of vulnerability to trafficking of Roma children and how they influence on the different recruitment strategies. Among the identified factors of vulnerability are poverty, social exclusion and marginalization, as well as dropping-out of schools and lack of employment prospects. The occurrence of traditional practices such as early marriages, child labour and mobility are also factors that create a vulnerability to trafficking and should prompt deeper investigation into how they underpin essential survival strategies for families. Ms Alexandrova presented examples of specific vulnerabilities from all the countries in which the study was conducted.

Ms Kamelia Dimitrova, senior analyst at CSD, outlined the main findings about the three different forms of children trafficking. Some of the challenges in identification and assistance of children victims of trafficking for begging are the stereotypes that begging is a “cultural” activity and the absence of child support mechanisms to begging families. The main challenge in identification of victims for pickpocketing is that investigation can be launched only if children are caught committing the crime. Regarding the third form examined – sexual exploitation of boys, the challenges in identification and assistance are the biggest due to institutional homophobia and the complete lack of data on characteristics of victims of exploitation. Ms Dimitrova focused on recruitment strategies for the three different forms and outlined the specifics of the risk groups. She pointed the policy recommendations for improvement of the victim identification and child trafficking response mechanisms and stressed on the importance of community involvement.

Among the discussion following the presentation emerged the question whether there is ethnically desegregated data collection and representatives of the European Commission stated that this is an issue that they work on and soon there will be a proposal on the topic.




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events-1706Assessing the Integration of Vulnerable Migrant Groupshttps://csd.bg/events/event/assessing-the-integration-of-vulnerable-migrant-groups/On 28 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised in Brussels a policy conference addressing problems related to monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrants (migrant women, children and victims of trafficking).On 28 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised in Brussels a policy conference addressing problems related to monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrants (migrant women, children and victims of trafficking). The policy conference presented the final results and the key recommendations of an international comparative study conducted in ten EU Member States, before key stakeholders at EU level. The ten countries of the study included Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.

The Conference was joined by Mr Christian Pirvulescu, Member of the Permanent Study Group on Immigration and Integration, European Economic and Social Committee and by Ms Valeria Setti, Policy Officer at the Legal Migration and Integration Unit, DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission who gave opening speeches. Mr Pirvulescu outlined the crucial role that the civil society plays in the process of assessment of integration measures as well as in mobilizing efforts and initiatives for the inclusion of vulnerable groups into the societies of the Member States of the EU. He expressed the opinion that integration measures for vulnerable migrants should become more effective stressing the need to improve the access to vocational training and to broader social services for migrant children.

In her opening speech Ms Valeria Setti stressed that integration policies for migrants are of primary importance for the EU Member States. She turned attention to the complexity of the integration process of third country nationals that shouldn’t be evaluated only based on the Zaragoza Indicators. Contextual factors such as public opinion, politics and discrimination should also be taken into account. Ms Setti also touched upon the big debate about integrating TCN through mainstream policies or through targeted policies for TCN of different categories. She stressed the value of the ASSESS project in making the presence of different vulnerable subgroups of TCN in the EU more visible.

Dr Jean-Pierre Gauci, Director of The People for Change Foundation presented the main results of the comparative study conducted in the ten EU Member States. Dr Gauci pointed that different migration realities result in different levels of engagement in migrant integration and therefore in different results. He expressed concern about the negative portrayal of migrants in the public spaces of many Member States and reminded that having good policies does not always equal reaching good integration results. Dr Gauci outlined that monitoring is a requirement in the integration process but in some cases it is seen more as a bureaucratic task rather than as an assessment meant to lead to improved integration measures. Some of the main recommendations put forward by Dr Gauci include the need to prioritise evaluation in integration policy; to conduct external monitoring of integration policies by NGOs and think tanks; the need for development of data collection mechanisms at national level and for conduct of inclusive monitoring.

Dr Mila Mancheva, senior research fellow at CSD, presented the main findings and the policy recommendations for improvement of the integration of vulnerable migrant women, children and victims of trafficking. Dr Mancheva outlined the integration outcomes for the three groups of TCN by way of comparison with native population in a number of social spheres such as education, employment, inclusion, political participation and anti-discrimination. Dr Mancheva stressed the importance of studying the factors contributing to negative or positive performance of vulnerable migrants and outlined some key recommendations for improvement of data collection mechanisms at EU and at national level.

The presentation of main results was followed by a lively discussion under the moderation of Prof. Heaven Crowley, Chair in International Migration, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. The main topics raised in the discussion regarded the role of politicians in convincing EU societies of the values of integration; the need to develop indicators for measuring TCN integration that target not only TCN but also the host societies and their willingness and openness for welcoming and accommodating migrants; the need to assure sustainability of integration services by allocating a minimum of integration services into the responsibility of the governments.


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events-1704Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2015https://csd.bg/events/event/bulgarias-international-competitiveness-2015/On 27 May 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015. In 2015, Bulgaria ranks 55th out of 61 economies, while in 2014 it ranked 56th. On 27 May 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy in partnership with Enterprise Europe Network at ARC Consulting presented the results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015. The Center for the Study of Democracy is official partner for Bulgaria of the World Competitiveness Center at IMD (International Institute for Management Development). The previous issues of the Yearbook had a direct impact on the Bulgarian competitiveness policy-making, and were quoted in strategic policy documents of the Bulgarian government. International investors monitor very closely the IMD competitiveness ranking, which makes its 2015 results even more relevant.

In 2015, Bulgaria ranks 55th out of 61 economies, while in 2014 it ranked 56th. Bulgaria remains among the most uncompetitive countries, with only Croatia and Ukraine having lower scores in Europe. The country remains far from his best achievement - 38th place in 2009 - a sign that the Bulgarian government and business leaders still fail to define and implement coherent policies tailored to the national interests, needs and competitive factors. The main advantages of the Bulgarian economy remain associated with the low prices, which makes the country vulnerable to changes in the international environment.

As expected, the bank crisis of 2014 and high government expenditures had a negative impact and weakened the competitive position of the country. At the same time, the unemployment rate remains high, despite a slight decrease. Long-term competitiveness factors - environmental protection, education, infrastructure and overall healthcare, as well as the business efficiency indicators, such as level of performance and quality management practices, are among the ones evaluated as lowest by the IMD Yearbook, and continue to stand as a challenge.

The Bulgarian competitiveness is in decline. In practice, during the first eight years of its EU membership, the country has failed to close the gap with the other Eastern European countries. The major challenges facing the country in 2015 are: optimizing the performance of the public administration, tackling energy poverty, and enhancing the fight against corruption. Among the factors that improve the overall competitiveness of Bulgaria, it is worth noting the growth of business spending on science and innovation.

Previous events

Public Discussion: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2014
Public discussion: Bulgaria's International Competitiveness 2013
Press Conference: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2012

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1702Round Table: Overcoming Institutional Gaps to Tackle Illicit Financinghttps://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-overcoming-institutional-gaps-to-tackle-illicit-financing/On 12 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised a round table discussion entitled Institutional Measures to Counter the Financing of Organised Crime to debate the current state of the criminal markets in Bulgaria, particularly the smuggling of illegal cigarettes, the drug market and VAT fraud, as well as the practices used to curb these markets applied rather inconsistently in recent years.On 12 May 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organised a round table discussion entitled Institutional Measures to Counter the Financing of Organised Crime to debate the current state of the criminal markets in Bulgaria, particularly the smuggling of illegal cigarettes, the drug market and VAT fraud, as well as the practices used to curb these markets applied rather inconsistently in recent years.
The round table was opened by Mr. Atanas Atanasov, Chairman of the Internal Security and Public Order Parliamentary Committee, and by Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Board of the Center for the Study of Democracy. In his opening speech, Mr. Atanasov stated that one of the most effective ways to combat organised crime is to stop the financial flows which support it. He emphasized the importance of the conclusions and recommendations advanced by CSD and expressed hope that they can serve as a foundation for legislative initiatives aimed at establishing reliable mechanisms for addressing the financing of organised crime. Mr. Atanasov noted that the conclusions and recommendations are a result of the continuing cooperation between the non-governmental sector and law-enforcement institutions in Bulgaria, an approach which is productive and should therefore be encouraged and developed further.

Dr. Ognian Shentov pointed that regardless of the decisions of the Council for Justice and Home Affairs to criminalize the financing of organised crime, unfortunately due to a variety of reasons this has happened neither in the European Union, nor in Bulgaria. Dr. Shentov expressed faith that the conclusions and recommendations of the CSD report can bring a positive effect in this regard. Dr. Shentov highlighted an interesting parallel between legal and illegal markets identified by the study – illegal markets work with the same financial instruments that legal markets also use. Therefore, the same instruments should be used to counter the financing of organised crime, which raises the question whether the relevant law-enforcement institutions have sufficient capacity for this. In addition, public-private partnership in the formulation and implementation of institutional measures to counter organised crime financing should be used to its full potential.

Dr. Atanas Rusev, Senior Analyst at CSD, stated that the efforts for countering organised crime are mostly focused on the perpetrators, illegal goods and criminal actions with the aim to capture, convict and imprison the offenders. In the last 20–30 years, though, an additional focus of law-enforcement efforts is money laundering with the aim to confiscate assets obtained through criminal activity. At the same time, another crucial aspect of criminal activity – its funding – remains outside the scope of attention. This aspect is critical, as no criminal scheme could be launched without first being financed. In-depth research has been done of the process of launching a criminal activity and securing the necessary initial capital, as well as of its various sources. The funds can be of both legal and illegal origin, undeclared income being a key source for financing criminal enterprises. Despite the existence of some similar schemes, the amount of initial capital and the money laundering arrangements are essentially different in Bulgaria and the other European countries. Dr. Rusev closed his presentation by outlining some of the possible measures for addressing organised crime financing.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst at CSD, discussed several specific cases, notably the cigarette market in the country. He distinguished between five types of markets and commented on the financial parameters of three of them. On the first type of market illicit white cigarettes (legally manufactured and legally sold) are imported from Greece, and moved around from vehicle to vehicle until their tracks are lost and they “disappear” from Bulgaria and appear elsewhere in an EU country. On the second type of market a legal manufacturer sells legally produced cigarettes without an excise stamp. In 2014, these sales accounted for 70% of the overall illegal cigarettes market. On the third type of market people from border regions bootleg cigarettes bought at duty free-shops and sell them for a profit. Mr. Bezlov also commented on cases of VAT fraud, giving as an example the sugar industry.

Mr. Stoyan Temelakiev, Deputy Director of the General Directorate Combating Organised Crime, declared that the management and staff of the recently restored General Directorate were strongly motivated to tackle organised crime issues, particularly people and drug trafficking, commercial goods smuggling and cybercrime. He examined the effects of the economic crisis on the different illegal markets, including a significant increase in online financial scams, shrinking of the sex services market in Bulgaria as opposed to a rise in people trafficking, and a decrease in heroin trafficking as opposed to an increase of the number of “mules”, motivated mainly by financial reasons. Mr. Temelakiev expressed strong support for public-private partnership in tackling organised crime and in developing the capacity of law-enforcement bodies.

Dr. Phillip Gounev, Deputy Minister of Interior, acknowledged the conclusions and recommendations advanced by CSD. He pointed out that the government is sensitive to the dynamics of criminal markets. One of its recent responses has been the establishment of an Interagency Coordination Center for Combatting Contraband and Controlling of High-Risk Goods and Cargo Transfer which has three main goals: to counter contraband, to produce an anti-corruption effect (through constant video connection with border checkpoints), and to provide risk analysis in which all relevant institutions are involved. In addition, two relevant national strategies are under development – a strategy to counter money laundering and a strategy to curb the shadow economy. Dr. Gounev also underscored the necessity of creating an integrated registry of bank accounts – a tool that would aid significantly investigating authorities.

General Vanyo Tanov, Director of the Customs Agency, commented on the cigarettes market dynamics after 2009. From mid-2013 until late 2014, Bulgarian cigarettes in illegal markets accounted for around 70% of the overall quantity. Since the beginning of 2015, however, as a result of the measures undertaken by institutions, they had not appeared on the illegal market. At the same time, General Tanov was positive that the cigarettes seized at the “incident” at Kaptian Andreevo border checkpoint were captured before transiting Bulgaria, rather than being intended for sale within the country. He expressed hope that institutions would improve their effectiveness in fighting organised crime.

Ms. Galia Dimitrova, Deputy Director for Operational Activities at the National Revenue Agency, presented some of the main achievements of NRA for the past year. Following the introduction of fiscal control measures for high-risk goods precluding fictitious export, during the second half of 2014 revenues collected by NRA exceeded BGN 350 million. A new approach in combating tax fraud is the constant monitoring of mid and high-income tax payers. In 2014, a reversed VAT charging system was introduced, which resulted in additional BGN 200 million of revenue from grain. Cooperation with all law-enforcement agencies has also improved, leading to BGN 750 million more tax and social security payments for the first four months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014.

Mr. Vasil Panov, Director for Control at NRA dwelt on the complexity of tax fraud where typically there are masterminds and perpetrators (stooges), which greatly hinders effective control on the part of NRA. Therefore, institutions must work together to counteract this type of crime. An example of such cooperation is the recent commissioning of four tax experts to the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation where they are involved in working on specific cases as part of prosecutor’s office teams. Mr. Panov suggested that online trade in excise goods should be analysed for potential risks. NRA itself has undertaken measures to improve the capacity of its relevant staff.

Mr. Atanas Atanasov closed the round table by commending its work and summarizing the main conclusions. Organised crime can be countered more effectively if coordination between institutions during the investigation phase is improved. Moreover, the role of internal security units and inspectorates at the various institutions in monitoring and disclosing criminal dependencies needs to be strengthened. The latter is particularly important, since part of the resources used to finance organised crime are given out as bribes to state officials in order to cover up instead of uncovering the crimes.


Report Financing of organised crime
CSD Policy Brief No 50: Overcomming institutional gaps to tackle illicit financing

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1692SELDI Policy Advocacy Workshop: Countering Corruption and State Capture for Transparent Energy Governance in SEE https://csd.bg/events/event/seldi-policy-advocacy-workshop-countering-corruption-and-state-capture-for-transparent-energy-gover/On 28 April 2015 the SELDI initiative held in Belgrade a policy advocacy workshop dedicated to corruption and energy governance. The event marked the beginning of SELDI’s work in delivering anti-corruption solutions in the energy sector in Southeast Europe. On 28 April 2015 the SELDI initiative held in Belgrade a policy advocacy workshop dedicated to corruption and energy governance. The event was co-hosted by the "Transparent Energy Governance in CEE" project, funded by the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund of the U.S. State Department. The workshop marked the beginning of SELDI’s work in delivering anti-corruption solutions in the energy sector in Southeast Europe. The sector has been identified in SELDI’s Regional Anti-Corruption Report as one of the highest corruption risk areas in the region. State capture threats have raised concerns about the region’s capacity to implement EU energy-sector regulations, but have also made the countries vulnerable to illegitimate and/or criminal inside and outside pressure.

Mr. Boško Mijatović, President of the Center for Liberal‐Democratic Studies, Serbia and Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria and SELDI Coordinator opened the workshop by presenting the main objectives of the event.

Ms. Milica Bozanic, Assistant Director for International Cooperation, Serbian Anticorruption Agency highlighted the role of the agency in strengthening the institutional and professional integrity of the public bodies and personnel. She noted the economic importance of the energy sector for all countries in the region and pointed out that one of the main corruption risks lies in the process of issuing energy licenses. She stressed that Serbia needs to harmonize its procedures with the EU ones, and limit the discretionary power of the licensing officials.

Dr. Boris Begović, Senior Fellow at the Center for Liberal‐Democratic Studies made an overview of the changing patterns of corruption in Serbia. According to him, in the last ten years the contact of the population with the public administration has decreased, resulting in reduction of the previously dispersed and small scale corruption. At the same time however the corruption schemes became more centralized, and began to involve officials at the highest political level. Dr. Begović stressed that the existence of anti-corruption legislation and strategies will remain insufficient until the public institutions become respected and recognized by the population.

Ms Valentina-Andreea Dimulescu, Project Coordinator, ANTICORRP and Researcher, European Policies and EU Funds, Romanian Academic Society (SAR) underlined that despite the increased corruption control and numerous arrests, Romania is still considered to be one of the most corrupt states in the EU. This is due to the retained political influence of certain individuals even after each change of the government. There are accusations of politically motivated arrests. Among the remaining challenges are the recouping the financial damages, willingness of MPs to vote in favor of lifting their colleagues’ immunity, extended confiscation of illegally obtained assets, maintaining the institutional stability of the anti-corruption bodies, etc. An analysis performed under the ANTICORRP project reveals that the corruption risks in the construction sector and procurement are substantial. In the period 2007-2013, about 21% of the single bidding contracts went to “favored” firms such as political party donors. Another SAR research shows that public officials with decision making power tend to receive a suspended sentence for corruption crimes in comparison lower ranking public officials, and EU funds frauds are among the most common grounds for conviction.

According to Mr. Munir Podumljak, Executive Director of Partnership for Social Development (PSD) there are some success stories in Croatia, such as the work of the Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK). The USKOK judges, prosecutors and police apply short procedures and pass quick sentences, similar to the procedures of the Italian anti-mafia system. At the same time however this system remains is highly politicized and lacking the trust of the people. Mr. Podumljak discussed the application of the Croatian Public Procurement Law, which is among the most advanced pieces of legislation in the area. Despite this fact, an in-depth analysis of public procurements data has uncovered that private companies rarely win government contracts through competitive procedures; the public procurement contracts are controlled by the public sector. For example, about 90% of the value of construction sector public procurement contracts is awarded to public or privatized companies.

The participants in the discussion focused on the mechanisms that can ensure the efficient and independent functioning of the anti-corruption agencies. They noted that the anti-corruption agencies operate in complex environment, with changing corruption schemes and players, while being underfunded and understaffed.

Mr. Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria discussed the energy governance deficits and methods for tackling corruption and state capture risks. He underlined that the integrity of oversight institutions in the Bulgarian energy sector if often breached and that there are problems with the management of the state-owned energy enterprises.

According to Mr. Andrej Nosko, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Foundations (OSF) and SELDI International Advisory Board Member corruption is an individual moral failure. He recommended that CSOs analyse the distribution of money and power, the people designing legislation, the lobbing procedures, how legislation is implemented, and impunity granted. He proposed as analytical and communication tool the use of an Index of State Capture, which could convey this complex phenomenon, and allow comparison across countries. He also explained that the energy sector is a good case for showing and analyzing corruption on all levels.

Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst, Economic Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria introduced to the audience the energy security as a concept - reducing import dependence, increasing the number of suppliers, utilisation of indigenous resources, introduction of the energy-efficient technologies. He noted that the main energy security challenges and risks in Bulgaria include the high energy expenditure intensity, the energy poverty (40% of the Bulgarian population is energy poor), the fossil fuels imports, the oil and gas import dependence, the energy governance deficits. He recommended that CSOs from the region analyze the governance and financial development of state-owned-enterprises in the energy sector, public procurement contracts, and large infrastructure projects. Dr. Galev underlined that large energy infrastructure projects have been launched based only on political decision, without any unbiased needs assessment. The major ones resulted in the accumulation of half of the debt of the Bulgarian National Electric Company (NEC). He concluded by stressing on the importance of a comprehensive and in-depth monitoring of the energy policy development.

Ms Eugenia Gusilov, Managing Director, Romania Energy Center (ROEC) presented the implementation of the Government Emergency Ordinance 109/2011, concerning the corporate governance of public enterprises. The Ordinance sets the framework for recruiting the private management of SOEs based on professional qualifications, and requires the use of management and administration plans. An Order from 2014 obliges all SOEs to publish their sponsorship contracts. Romania achieved increased awareness of the issue, and strengthened the communication and cooperation between the companies and the authorities. The implementation of these regulations however is lacking, as there are no efficient sanctions and not all SOEs comply. She concluded that a lot of work still needs to be done in order to regain the trust of the foreign investors.

Mr. Bojan Kovacic, freelance expert, IVLP alumna and former Deputy Director of the Serbian Energy Efficiency Agency warned that many laws are adopted without public debate. He expressed his concern that there is too much political influence in the energy policy-making. He shared his ideas for improvement of the management of public enterprises, such as setting realistic goals, decreasing the corruption risks in public procurement, regional and international cooperation, and strong political will.

Ms. Leila Bičakčić, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN), Bosnia and Herzegovina presented several cases of corruption and other malpractices in the construction of thermal power plants. She noted that the Serbian government has changed the legal framework to accommodate these investments. According to her, there are cases of national resources being used as guarantee for a private investor loan. Ms. Bičakčić stressed that the citizens should be better informed about their rights, and CSOs can play important role in that respect. Additional information is available on the Energy Prospects in BiH website www.cin.ba/energopotencijal prepared by CIN reporters based on public data.

During the discussion Mr. Andrej Nosko, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Foundations (OSF) and SELDI International Advisory Board Member underlined that corruption results in energy poverty of the population. He recommended that CSOs work with investigative journalists and activists in order to achieve better impact and awareness. At the moment decisions in the energy sector are taken based solely on the technical evaluations, thus evading political responsibility and consequences. There should be wider public debate on all energy related issues.

Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the analysis and advocacy tools that CSOs can use for improving energy sector governance. He recommended several research methods, sources of information and approaches for obtaining additional data on financial and management indicators of energy state owned enterprises, large infrastructure projects and public procurement contracts.


Anti-Corruption Reloaded: Assessment of Southeast Europe





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events-1696National Seminar: Combating Child Trafficking among Vulnerable Communitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/national-seminar-combating-child-trafficking-among-vulnerable-communities/On 31 March 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a national seminar to present the national report on Bulgaria “Child trafficking among vulnerable communities”.On 31 March 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a national seminar to present the national report on Bulgaria “Child trafficking among vulnerable communities”. The participants in the event were experts from the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (NCCTHB), the State Agency for Child Protection (SACP), the Agency for Social Assistance (ASA), Chief Directorate “Border Police” (CDBP) and Chief Directorate “Combating Organized Crime” (CDCOC) at the Ministry of Interior, State Agency for National Security (SANS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Central Commission for Combating Juvenile Delinquency (CCCABMA), representatives of Roma NGOs and social service providers and guests.

The seminar was opened by Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy. Dr. Stoyanov outlined the international initiative under which the research was conducted. The study, coordinated by CSD, was carried out in partnership with organizations from Austria, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Greece. CSD authored the research methodology, coordinated the country studies and conducted the research in Bulgaria.

The authors of the report Kamelia Dimitrova and Yva Alexandrova, senior experts at CSD, presented the empirical data on the profiles of the victims and key vulnerability factors, mechanisms of recruitment and exploitation and made recommendations for improving the effectiveness of mechanisms for care and support of the victims. The report looks at three specific forms of trafficking in persons: child trafficking for begging, for pickpocketing and for sexual exploitation of boys and the way they manifest themselves among Roma communities.

The report outlines the profiles of victims stressing that most often victims of trafficking for begging are girls and boys aged 8-16 years. Such reference point is missing with regards to boy victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. Against this background, the research established that transgender youth providing sex services to men in Bulgaria and abroad are victims of exploitation and abuse but remain outside the radars of identification of trafficking victims. Court decisions for the period 2011-2013 show that boys are between one fifth and one third of the underage victims trafficked for debauchery, with between 10 and 14 such cases registered each year. However, the research established that boy victims of sex trafficking abroad are not referred to assistance by national authorities and service providers and therefore they do not have access to mechanisms for support. The report outlines the key factors of vulnerability that make the Roma minority a group at particular risk of exploitation. The study concludes that there are no specific culturally ingrained practices that make Roma vulnerable to trafficking. Rather, socio-economic factors such as poverty, large-scale unemployment and low levels of education, resulting from a history of social exclusion of the Roma, make the minority group especially vulnerable to trafficking. The study presents empirical data regarding the mechanisms of recruitment and exploitation of victims. Early marriages are a common strategy for recruitment of Roma child victims of trafficking for pick-pocketing and begging.

The general recommendation of the report is that the available infrastructure for social assistance should pay specific attention to the need for further development of facilities related to the protection and assistance of children victims of trafficking and of abuse. Thus, Community Support Centers, Family Type Accommodation Centers and Family Consultation centers should be established in places where crisis centers for children victims of trafficking and of abuse exist. One of the specific recommendations of the authors is to include community representatives in the expert groups of LCCTHB and NCCTHB.

Along with the recommendations outlined in the report, experts from CSD proposed community based response mechanism for assistance of Roma child victims of trafficking and their families. The response mechanisms is devised to address two significant gaps in victims assistance provided to Roma child victims of trafficking: lack of sustainability of the support and lack of involvement of the Roma communities in the assistance and protection of child victims of trafficking and their families. Community based centres operating in Roma communities could be involved in the pre-departure phase of assistance in the conducting the social and family assessment prior to return of the child or soon after his repatriation to his home country. A more elaborate, contextual assessment of the family and social environment would support a more accurate risk assessment and consequently – a more informed decision based upon the child’s best interest. Community based centres could also play instrumental role in the durable solution phase of assistance. Social workers from the Roma community could offer assistance and mediation to the families in dealing with public services and institutions (health, education, social assistance) in order to ensure that the child’s basic needs are met. They could provide feedback on the reintegration process to the Child Protection Departments.

Ms. Milena Dyankova, expert at the State Agency for Child Protection, said that according to SACP there are 36 cases of children trafficked for sexual exploitation last year. Key countries of destination were Greece, Sweden, the UK and France. Ms. Dyankova reported a decline in the number of reported cases compared with previous years, but did not elaborate on the possible reasons.

Representatives of the two organizations which were actively involved in conducting the fieldwork – Mr. Gancho Iliev from "World without Borders", Stara Zagora, and Ms. Maria Nikolova from Womens Roma association "Hayachi" and Family Consultation Centre for Children and Parents in Novi Pazar both shared their impressions of the fieldwork during the study and their visions on how the support for child victims could be improved. They both concluded that the most effective service which could be involved in the support of Roma child VoT would be a community based center, operating in the Roma neighbourhood and staffed with representatives from the community.

A general conclusion of the NGO sector is that much more work and a set of measures for reintegration of child victims are needed. Non-governmental organizations that support or work in crisis centers noted that in practice the crisis center is perceived as "a final stage of assistance" for the victims. “We are working really hard with the victims and sometimes we achieve very good results - children begin to think about their future in perspective, but then they leave the crisis center and return to their families who have exploited them before or enter into another institution where they receive very little support or no support at all. We should really focus on the long-term reintegration,” said Ms. Lydia Zagorova, ECPAT representative in Bulgaria. Ms. Zagorova pointed out that on an international level there is a will for the establishment of common procedures for support, and that it is “very difficult to explain to the partners from countries such as Italy, Greece and the Netherlands why in Bulgaria things are so complex and why the state does not know how and exactly where are the Bulgarian children victims of trafficking”.

Mr. Georgi Apostolov, Program Coordinator of the ARC Fund, stressed that the Internet is a major recruitment method for trafficking cases and that there is no system for collecting and sharing information about this type of crimes. He expressed his doubts of having only 36 cases of children trafficked for sexual exploitation in 2014 and took these statistics as an example for the challenges in the system for collecting and sharing the data. Mr. Apostolov expressed his concern that "human trafficking actually deprives our country of human capital and having in mind the demographic situation in Bulgaria we simply cannot afford not to combat it actively".

The representative of the Chief Directorate "Border Police" in the Ministry of Interior Ms. Dimitrina Boyanova stated that "Border Police" has no power to suspend the right of free movement of EU citizens. Thus, in cases where the child has a signed by their parents or guardians mandate to leave the country the employees of CDBP can do anything to stop child’s free movement. Ms. Boyanova assured that CDBP keeps a constant contact with notaries who sign the documentation of the children but if the verification reveals that the documents are legal, they must allow them to cross the border. CDBP employees have developed an indicators based questionnaire aiming to identify any discrepancy in the stories of the child and the adult. However, even if the employees suspect that they are dealing with a case of child trafficking they do not have the right to stop the free movement of the children.

Ms. Milena Dyankova discussed the need for more intensive preventive work by mediators, social workers, representatives of the local police stations and all stakeholders directly involved in working with the community on prevention of the factors leading to cases of trafficking. She confirmed that the Agency has a mechanism for collecting data on cases that applies only when repatriated. Ms. Dyankova informed that currently they are testing a new electronic system developed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in which data will be collected from the Child Protection Directorates, the Centers of family type accommodation and other social services. In addition, the expert from SACP assured that the state has made serious efforts to introduce integrated social services but in order to be efficient the municipalities must be the active stakeholders since the planning is done at local level. In response, Mr. Gancho Iliev from "World without Borders" noted that although there are many social services, none of them are community-based. Mr. Iliev said that the mediators could be best described as the "sms/text message to the community". "Community does not need to be sent a text message but rather to be worked with actively in the field. What is the benefit of the modern offices in the city centers when none of the community representatives will go there? Social services must be based in the community".


The report was carried out under the project "Combating new forms of trafficking of Roma children with the participation of the community" (CONFRONT) funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Commission.




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events-1698Training: Models for Supporting Roma Child Victims of Trafficking with the Aid of Community-based Serviceshttps://csd.bg/events/event/training-models-for-supporting-roma-child-victims-of-trafficking-with-the-aid-of-community-based-se/On March 30, 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a training session entitled Models for Supporting Roma Child Victims of Trafficking with the Aid of Community-based Services.On March 30, 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a training session entitled Models for Supporting Roma Child Victims of Trafficking with the Aid of Community-based Services. The goal of the session was to discuss the gaps in the currently existing victim support system and to identify opportunities for the implementation of community-based services which would strenghten assistance and reinegration of trafficked children from marginalized Roma communities.

Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova, Senior Analyst at CSD, presented the main profile of children trafficked for sexual exploitation and for pickpocketing. The profile is compiled as a result of a research project, carried out with the help of social service providers, including those who work with trafficked persons. According to official data around 12-15% of the victims of trafficking in Bulgaria are children. When the purpose is for them to work in the sex industry, they are usually sent to the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and France. When children are trafficked for panhandling and pickpocketing, England, Austria and Greece are the most frequent destinations. In most cases, victims are girls. The children trafficked for pickpocketing are usually young, between 8-14 years of age. They are often exploited by their own families, which makes investigation cumbersome since the children do not feel like victims and many leave the crisis centers of their own accord. The victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are somewhat older, between 16-18 years of age. While in this form of trafficking the victims are also primarily girls, around 20% of the cases involve boys. These cases, however, do not reach the victim support mechanisms. An especially vulnerable group in this respect are young transsexual males.

Ms. Yva Alexandrova, Senior Analyst at CSD, presented the main vulnerability indicators. A substantial percentage of the child victims are of Roma background. Even though in Bulgaria victim data is not segregated by ethnicity, according to expert assessments the proportion of Roma victims is between 50-80% for trafficking for sexual exploitation and reaches up to 90% for trafficking for pickpocketing. Despite these figures, Ms. Alexandrova noted that there are no indicators which can be exclusively attributed to the Roma community. There are some factors, however, which are especially relevant for that particular community, like discrimination and segregation in schools. Poverty, unemployment, low incomes for the working population and insufficient education are important factors. Intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, domestic violence, substance abuse and prior experience in prostitution are commonly observed among trafficked children. The existence of large debts and the practice of early arranged marriages also create favorable conditions for trafficking, notably in the Roma community. The lack of preventive care for severely marginalized families is a particularly serious problem.

Ms. Maria Cheshmedjieva, from the Fund for Crime Prevention Iga and a member of the local Commission for the Prevention of Trafficking in the city of Pazardjik, elaborated on different profiles of children, who have been victims of trafficking. Children living in a family environment and going to school are less often victimized, but there are such cases too and mental disorders, naivity and lack of information are vulnerability enhancing factors. Children from institutions are especially vulnerable as well as child victims of violence and those having trouble with the law. Other groups with different levels of risk are working children, children who work and study and the ones in charge of a household. Ms. Cheshmedjieva underscored the fact the channels for trafficking in persons coincide with the channels for drugs and arms smuggling. Among the most important indicators suggesting that trafficking is taking place is a wary child or several children accompanied by a someone, who is not a relative, signs of violence etc. Trafficking is carried out through the following mechanisms: newspaper adds for jobs, promises for work and a better life, forcing, the illusion of a loving relationship, internet marriage, sale by the family as well as the phenomenon of the second wave, when a victim later on goes on to recruit others.

Ms. Mariela Todorova-Koleva, Director of Crisis Center Balvan, presented the relevant procedures in handling cases. The stages of the process involve planning, realization, review, closing and assessment of the results. The services that the Crisis Center offers are focused on the comprehensive satisfaction of all of the children's needs – physical, health, educational, psychological and social. The main goals is the emotional stabilization of the children, the fostering of sense of trust and stability and the acquisition of useful skills, necessary for independent life. The crisis center also assists the continuation of contact with relatives and other institutions. The main problem in the carrying out of these activites is the insufficient funding.

Ms. Dimitrova presented the problem zones in the victim assistance and protection mechanism. At the level of handling signals, the identification of potential and actual victims is difficult. During the reception of identified victims stage, there are gaps in documentation which makes the accurate assessment of cases challenging. The temporary care phase is plagued by insufficient communication between the Crisis Centers and the Departments for Child Protection (DCPs). Partly, the problem stems from the fact that for DCPs acquiring access in margnalized communities is difficult due to, on the one hand, community distrust for state institutions, and the lack of knowledge about the community on the part of social workers, on the other. The last stage, long-term reintegration is the least developed link of the mechanism. Monitoring carried out by DCPs is in most cases superficial, and in marginalized families it is not performed at all. The long-tem care measures undertaken by the DCPs are usually either reintegration in the family or sending victims in an institution, in practice reexposing them to risk of trafficking. Ms. Dimitrova suggested a mechanism for including community-based services in the Coordination Mechanism for Reference and Handling of Cases of Unescorted Children and Child Victims of Trafficking, Coming Back from Aborad. Before the phase of victim reception, community-based services can actively participate in monitoring of the family environment in order to make a comprehensive assessment of the risk, come up with a plan for action and choose the most appropriate measure for protection. During the long-term reintegration of victims in their families or in a family-type arrangements, they can also be active in the supervision of the reintegration process by carrying out frequent on-site visits. Community-based services could also brief DCPs on the state of the reintegration process and consult the child and his/her family on health and social topics in order to support effective social adaptation.

Ms. Todorova-Koleva expressed the opinion that communication between institutions has to be improved and the information about victims has to be shared in its completeness. Another serious problem is the fact that personnel from institutions dealing with victims are often not sufficiently qualified and look at the child victims with suspicion.

Mr. Gancho Iliev, Chairman of the World without Borders Association, supported the creation of community-based centers. According to him, it would be best if these centers offer a comprehensive service but he noted that the groups at risk should not become dependent consumers of services, and therefore, there is a need to develop the human capital within the community itself.

Ms. Spaska Mihailova from the New Way Association, also agreed that community centers can have a crucial role in service provision in both prevention of trafficking and long-term support for victims. Nevetheless, she noted that this necessitates the development of a new methodology and financial standard.

Ms. Lidia Zagorova, director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) Bulgaria and mrs. Maria Nikolova, director of the Family Consulting Center for Parents and Children in the town of Novi Pazar, elaborated on the problem of financing organizations providing social services, including those that deal with victims of trafficking. They highlighted the existing paradox in Bulgaria where on one hand, social services are in constant threat of funds ceasing since they are mainly financed on the basis of projects and donations, but on the other hand, if they are to become delegated and funded by the state, the quality of services would seriously diminish.

The recommendations formulated during the training session were finalized in a Model for Supporting Roma Child Victims of Trafficking with the Aid of Community-based Services, which was presented to all national and local stakeholders during the seminar carried out on the next day.


The training was carried out under the project "Combating new forms of trafficking of Roma children with the participation of the community" (CONFRONT) funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Commission.




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events-1700Hearing on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM)https://csd.bg/events/event/hearing-on-the-cooperation-and-verification-mechanism-cvm/On 14 April 2015 the Committees on Budgetary Control at the European Parliament held a Hearing on &quot;Cooperation and Verification mechanism (CVM) with regard to Bulgaria and Romania&quot;.On 14 April 2015 the Committees on Budgetary Control at the European Parliament held a Hearing on "Cooperation and Verification mechanism (CVM) with regard to Bulgaria and Romania". The objective was to allow a deep discussion at the European Parliament level to assess how Bulgaria and Romania are implementing the commitments to a judicial reform, fighting against corruption and organised crime.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, reviewed the successes and failures of the CVM since its introduction upon Bulgaria`s accession to the EU in 2007. According to Mr. Stefanov, the results of the implementation of the CVM in Bulgaria have been mixed. The mechanism has helped the Bulgarian authorities to create a comprehensive set of institutions to improve transparency and accountability, and to tackle corruption and organized crime, such as the State Agency for National Security, the Commission for Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflicts of Interest, specialized prosecution and courts, etc. But there has not yet been a breakthrough in any of the three sets of the so called “benchmarks” set by the European Commission in the CVM – on judicial reform, on corruption, and on organized crime.

There are a number of improvements which can be introduced to the CVM to help Bulgaria boost its performance in implementing its anti-corruption strategy, and in achieving tangible results:

  • The CVM should be integrated into the wider EC efforts to help the convergence to higher rule of law standards in the EU. For example, the anti-corruption component can be fully covered by the EU Anti-Corruption Repot, which also feeds into the National Reform Strategy and economic governance mechanisms. This should ensure corrective venues for the Commission and a wider understanding of the problem among the Bulgarian administration.
  • As part of the above-mentioned integration the CVM should offer tools for evaluating or measuring progress, as an integral part of the benchmarking instrument. This should best be entrusted to active anti-corruption civil society organisations which have proven to be an important actor in sustaining the anti-corruption efforts. Adopting and annually implementing an internationally recognized methodology for monitoring and evaluation of anti-corruption policies will strengthen the existing system of checks and balances in the justice and home affairs domain.
  • Besides corrective or punitive measures the CVM should consider introducing more focused incentives and capacity building measures. This can be achieved through attaching a funding commitment to its implementation. This commitment can be realized through the available EU funding instruments, such as the national EU co-financed Operational Programmes, but also common European instruments, such as the EU`s Framework Programmes for Research, DG Home and DG Justice financial instruments, etc.



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events-1694Expert workshop: Theory and Implementation of the Integrated Anti-Corruption Enforcement Monitoring Toolhttps://csd.bg/events/event/expert-workshop-theory-and-implementation-of-the-integrated-anti-corruption-enforcement-monitoring/On 31 March 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted an expert workshop, intended to present and discuss the final version of the Integrated Anti-Corruption Enforcement Monitoring Toolkit (MONAC tool) along with the results from the pilot testing of the instrument.On 31 March 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted an expert workshop, intended to present and discuss the final version of the Integrated Anti-Corruption Enforcement Monitoring Toolkit (MONAC tool) along with the results from the pilot testing of the instrument.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the meeting by noting that the tool is meant to assess the extent to which anti-corruption policies cause institutional change. Therefore, it has significant potential to assist anti-corruption efforts not only in problematic states like Bulgaria, but also in the European Union at large.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center, elaborated on the methodology of the tool. The main assumption that the MONAC tool rests on is that corruption happens at the point of interaction between citizens/ businesses and public institutions and this is where it should be addressed. The tool draws on desk research, in-depth interviews with experts and employee surveys and is designed to account for standard corrupt behaviors such as abuse of power, as well as for more complex corrupt relations like clientelism. The tool is implemented in two phases: mapping and evaluation phase. During the first stage, the organization's anti-corruption policies are identified with the help of experts and the principal activities carried out by the institution are established. During the second phase the established corruption risks zones are taken into account in the evaluation of actual policies. Dr. Stoyanov expressed the opinion that in order to give best results, the tool is designed to be applicable to different organizations and needs to be understandable for officials without anti-corruption expertise. He underscored the importance of emphasizing the policy diagnostic side of the tool, since employees are much more likely to cooperate when they do not feel like their personal performance is scrutinized.

Mr. Alexander Gerganov, a researcher at the Center, presented the results from the pilot testing of the MONAC tool at the General Directorate Border Police of the Ministry of Interior. Eight principal organizational activities were identified. For only two of them, border security and checkpoints, specific anti-corruption policies exist. Other activities are regulated by general policies and initiatives of the Ministry of Interior. Interestingly, amongst border police officials, these two activities were perceived to carry the lowest corruption risk, suggesting that targeted interventions work well. All the anti-corruption policies of the border police were evaluated on the basis of four indicators: risk coverage, implementability, implementation and effect. Mr. Gerganov gave the asset declaration obligation as an example of a policy, which while having good implementability and implementation scores, did not cover risks well due to its generality and so gave poor results. He also noted that it is typical for Bulgarian public organizations to have no targeted policies addressing specifically defined corrupt behaviors and so vulnerabilities are overlooked. In that sense the instrument is very useful since it identifies the problem zones. However, self-implementation by organizations might prove a challenge and the development of a tutorial to enable use might be needed.

Dr. Fabrizio Costantino, a researcher from the University of Trento, presented the results of the tool's pilot test at the Trento Health service and the Riva del Garda municipality. He stated that perceived corruption is traditionally very high, with Italy scoring first in the European Union. Elaborating on the strengths of the tool, Dr. Costantino noted that it provided valuable policy effectiveness assessment at the implementation level. As problems he pointed out that the identification of activities could sometimes be problematic as some of the activities are too organization specific, which compels a return to the theoretical level. Moreover, the stratification of national legislation can be a complicating factor, necessitating reference towards national legal frameworks in order to better understand both relevant activities and rules that organizations are governed by.

Following the presentations of the implementation of the Integrated Anti-Corruption Enforcement Monitoring Toolkit in Bulgaria and Italy, EU experts on anti-corruption measures discussed the methodology of the tool and its results.

Dr. Elena Hounta from the Basel Institute on Governance suggested that the involvement of other stakeholders outside the organization itself might be beneficial as it would ensure a more comprehensive picture. Moreover, sometimes employees, especially those on lower levels, have insufficient knowledge about anti-corruption policies. She indicated that it is also important to consider how the results that the tool generate will be used to advance the anti-corruption efforts of organizations.
Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst at CSD's Economic program, noted that in Bulgaria, all public institutions, which handle EU funds, are obliged to annually assess their anti-corruption efforts and the MONAC tool could be valuable in assisting them to carry out that duty.


Mr. Lorenzo Segato, co-founder and director of the Research Centre on Security and Crime (RiSSC) stated that it might be beneficial to include further indicators on the personal integrity of the employees and on decision making procedures. Moreover, focusing too closely on formal rules might obscure some types of corruption. In Italy, the strict observance of all procedures is an indicator that something might be wrong.

Mr. Roberto Vannucci from the University of Pisa and Mr. Sorin Ionita from the Expert Forum in Romania agreed, stating that sometimes it is exactly discretion and not the existence of too much red tape that facilitates corrupt practices. Mr. Ionita noted that an important aspect that should be taken into account when implementing the MONAC tool is that corruption in public procurement needs to be monitored also at national level, since it is the government that allocates the resources to specific municipalities. Corrupt relations might not be immediately visible on municipal level, but the companies selected in public procurement procedures might be linked to high level government officials.



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events-1712Policy Forum: Augmenting demand for anti-corruption and organised crime (ADACTA)https://csd.bg/events/event/policy-forum-augmenting-demand-for-anti-corruption-and-organised-crime-adacta/On 19 March 2015 the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation and the Center for the Study of Democracy organised the final policy forum within the project &quot;Augmenting demand for anti-corruption and organised crime&quot; (ADACTA) funded by EC within IPA program.On 19 March 2015 the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation and the Center for the Study of Democracy organised the final policy forum within the project "Augmenting demand for anti-corruption and organised crime" (ADACTA) funded by EC within IPA program. Major findings of the survey and report on Corruption and Organized Crime Threat Monitoring Report were presented at the event as a basis to discuss plausible policy options to curb corruption and organized crime. The major goal of ADACTA was to transfer CSD's know-how in implementing Europol's model of OCTAs (organized crime threat assessments) and Corruption Monitoring System, applied to business and population.

Mr. Aleksander Krzalovski, Executive Director of MCMS launched the event highlighting the importance and timely appearance of the report in Macedonia, when society is highly concerned about high-level corruption, judicial inefficiency and corruption in education and health sectors.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov introduced the audience to wider context of cooperation between the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation with the South East Leadership Development Initiative (SELDI) and major findings of comparative research on corruption in Southeast Europe.

Ms. Emilija Tudzarovska-Gjorgjievska, the principle author of the report presented its the major findings and recommendations and Mr. Borjan Gjuzelov presented detailed estimates about probabilities of different corruption practices, estimates of corrupt transactions and different measures of enforcement characteristics. Mr. Todor Yalamov from the Center for Study of Democracy provided comments on the macroeconomic framework in Macedonia and implications of corporate governance mechanisms of state owned enterprises on corruption risks. Dr. Sladjana Taseva, President of the Board of Transparency International – Macedonia was also part of the panel of discussants providing her views on potential policy reforms that would tackle the corruption and organised crime.

Media Coverage (in Macedonian)

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events-1683Media as an Instrument for State Capturehttps://csd.bg/events/event/media-as-an-instrument-for-state-capture/On March 11, 2015, the Centеr for the Study of Democracy, in partnership with the Media Program Southeast Europe of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, held a conference on Media as an Instrument for State Capture.On March 11, 2015, the Centеr for the Study of Democracy, in partnership with the Media Program Southeast Europe of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, held a conference on Media as an Instrument for State Capture.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Board of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the discussion by pointing out that media influences the policy making process in the country and any hidden dependencies constitute a serious case of political corruption. Different sectors in different countries are captured by private and oligarchic interest to a varying degree, which creates major risks to national security. State capture, especially in the security sector, also influences our relations with NATO and the EU.

Mr. Christian Spahr, Head of the Media Southeast Europe Program of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, emphasized the continuing deterioration of media freedom in Bulgaria. According to recent studies, every second journalist in Bulgaria has experienced pressure from business and/or political circles. This pressure demotivates journalists in their pursuit of quality coverage.


The US Ambassador to Bulgaria, Marcie Ries, underscored the importance of free media for the functioning of democracy. “In a democracy, media have a critical role to play in informing citizens and voters and in playing host to or even provoking honest debate on public policy. I think we can acknowledge that in Bulgaria, there is a problem in that in many cases, we don't know who owns the media and therefore, consumers can't have an informed opinion about the objectivity, or lack of it, of what they are reading” she said.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of CSD, outlined the legal framework on media ownership. She claimed that while there are procedures for identification of media ownership, the results that they yield are unsatisfactory. The information provided is often insufficient and a number of mechanisms through which ownership can be obscured are not addressed by legislative measures. Social media, which are growing in importance, are left out as well. Therefore, there are serious gaps in the legislative framework, providing a fertile soil for corrupt practices. On the other hand, self-regulation of the sector is inadequate as evidenced by fragmented ethical codes.

Prof. Nelly Ognyanova from Sofia University noted that the lack of transparency in media is a systemic problem, akin to problems in other sectors, such as corruption in the judiciary. She elaborated on a couple of mechanisms used to evade regulations and to obscure real ownership. The use of ‘consultants’ who exercise the actual control over media renders them immune to regulatory oversight and prosecution. The sources of media financing are another important factor for transparency, and these sources often reveal hidden dependencies. For instance, some seemingly unrelated media might turn out to be debtors to the same bank. Similarly, significant state capture is evidenced by the allocation of state and EU funds to big PR companies. Prof. Ognyanova pointed out that the creation of a registry of all public funds allocated to media might be a possible solution. The unduly large influence through media concentration can be minimized through a permanent two-tier control system where the Commission for Protection of Competition would work together with the media sector regulator in providing a comprehensive measure for ensuring media pluralism.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst at CSD, spoke about the need for a thorough analysis of the advertisement and marketing market, where significant funds are generated but it is unknown how they are distributed. He alluded to a dense network of PR and sociological agencies deployed in manipulating public opinion. Commercial interests often prevent unbiased reporting on the principle of “payment for silence”. Likewise, external influence can be detected with regard to the presentation of international events like the Ukraine crisis. Mr. Bezlov noted that due to the technological revolution it became difficult for traditional media to finance themselves independently.

Mr. Georgi Lozanov, Chairman of the Council for Electronic Media, argued that concentration of influence is more important than mere ownership - when looking at ownership alone, it is unlikely that one would detect monopolies in Bulgarian media. Addressing financing, Mr. Lozanov suggested a debate on the revival of a previously existing measure preventing certain categories of creditors from financing media outlets. He agreed that independence is a challenge in an era when media cannot generate enough revenues to cover their costs.

In the second panel, Dr. Alina Dobreva from the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom in Florence presented the results of a research measuring the risks for media independence in nine EU member states. Concentration of media ownership is characteristic for EU member states and no country is immune to this trend. In Bulgaria, however, the risks are more complex – there is a lack of clear assessment of concentration in ownership and influence and no civic or political control. Another problem is cross-stakeholder ownership: there are close links between owners, distributors and politicians (including regulators), while the state is the biggest player on the advertising market. Nevertheless, the issues of media pluralism and freedom are high on the EU agenda and the experience of countries like Bulgaria can be valuable in informing future EU policies.

Mr. Ognian Zlatev, Head of the European Commission Representation in Sofia, furthered the topic of EU measures. He pointed out that while there have been some tentative attempts to address media freedom and pluralism, member states as well as the industry itself are not willing to accept EU-wide rules. Thus, Bulgaria can look for assistance from other states with good record in media freedom but at this moment cannot expect a comprehensive European framework.

Mr. Christian Spahr compared the regulations in Germany where the legal framework is very strict, with France, where financing or ownership by business is permitted but is transparent, and with Bulgaria, where there are conflicts of interest and no transparency. Considering the low public trust in media independence, he noted that more solidarity is needed among journalists in strengthening self-regulation.


Mr. Aleksander Kashumov from the Program for Access to Information Foundation noted that some significant progress has been achieved in the last fifteen years, but a complicating factor is the existence of myriad different commissions applying different aspects of the legal framework.

Mr. Alexei Lazarov, from Capital newspaper, argued that not all media are equally affected. The lack of transparency in the sector is a symptom of the overall situation in the country, where corruption is widespread and the judicial system is in dire need of reform. Once these problems are addressed, the issue of media capture would be resolved too.

Video recording of the conference "Media as an instrument for state capture"

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

 

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events-1681Assessing Integration Measures for Vulnerable Migrant Groups (ASSESS) Project Workshop 3https://csd.bg/events/event/assessing-integration-measures-for-vulnerable-migrant-groups-assess-project-workshop-3/On 26 and 27 February, 2015 the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) had the pleasure to host the third and last workshop within the international research aimed at monitoring the integration of three vulnerable migrant groups in ten EU Member States (migrant women, children and victims of trafficking). On 26 and 27 February, 2015the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) had the pleasure to host the third and last workshop within the international research aimed at monitoring the integration of three vulnerable migrant groups in ten EU Member States (migrant women, children and victims of trafficking). The following partners took part in the meeting: Mila Mancheva, Slavyanka Ivanova and Andrey Nonchev (CSD, Bulgaria), Luigi Bellesi and Sara Giannone (CENSIS, Italy), Jennifer Zuppiroli and Magdalena Queipo de Llano Lopez-Cozar (ACCEM, Spain), Dia Anagnostou (ELIAMEP, Greece), Terezia Palickova (People in Need, Slovakia), Susanne Kimm (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, Austria), Myroslava Keryk and Katarzyna Gmaj (Lazarski University, Poland), Vera Messing (CPS-CEU, Hungary), Andrew Vassallo (People for Change Foundation, Malta), as well as Joris Michelsen and Dirk Vanheule (CeMIS, Belgium). The meeting was joined by Prof. Heaven Crawley from the Advisory Board. The workshop focused on the completion of the final products of the study that will be released to stakeholders and the public together with national and EU level recommendations for improvement of the monitoring and integration of vulnerable migrants.

The meeting was opened by Dr. Mila Mancheva (CSD, Bulgaria), who introduced the program of the workshop. Susanne Kimm (BIM, Austria) presented the Compendium of Promising Practices, which lays out ten best practices from across the ten countries partaking in this research. Dr. Mila Mancheva (CSD, Bulgaria) remarked that the compendium should reflect the fact that some countries have a much more advanced framework of policies and practices focused on vulnerable groups, while others, like Bulgaria, have less pronounced initiatives. In this context the Compendium should serve to illustrate the limitations in integration policy across the EU member states especially with regard to vulnerable categories of migrants. Susanne Kimm (BIM, Austria) agreed that policy context will be added to the Compendium as well as a discussion of the limitations of the presented promising practices. Slavyanka Ivanova (CSD, Bulgaria) and Krystyna Gmaj (Lazarski University, Poland) noted that even if certain criterion is missing, such as sustainability for example, a practice can still be a promising one especially in contexts with less well developed integration frameworks and initiatives. Participants agreed that the approach of the Compendium should involve a review but not promotion of promising practices since the effectiveness of most initiatives is not evaluated.

In the afternoon session, Andrew Vassalo (PfC, Malta) presented a European Report providing review of EU directives relating to the integration of vulnerable migrant groups. The partners agreed that the relevant audience for the report is national stakeholders. Katarzyna Gmaj (Lazarski University, Poland) noted that the national context in which EU measures are implemented is crucial and that the incorporation of EU Directives in national law is not a guarantee in itself of effective migrant integration. Dirk Vanheule (CeMIS, Belgium) remarked that the EU Directives have limitations and imperfections and that they exist together with other international frameworks, with UN legislation being particularly important.

The 27 February session was opened by Dr. Mila Mancheva and Dr. Slavyanka Ivanova (CSD, Bulgaria) who presented the main results of a comparative study of the integration of vulnerable migrants conducted in ten EU member states. The presented study results related to comparative analysis of policy measures in set areas of migrant integration such as employment, social inclusion, active citizenship, education and anti-discrimination. In addition, main results were presented with regard to migrant integration outcomes along rich set of statistical indicators. A heated discussion followed regarding the gaps in available statistical data for comparing the integration outcomes in countries with big and moderate migrant populations (Vera Messing, CEU); the limitations and gaps in the use of national statistical and administrative data (Slavyanka Ivanova, CSD); the need to interpret statistical data and variations in integration outcomes in the context of migration patterns and migrant profiles at national level (Dia Anagnostou, ELIAMEP); the need of caution in discussing integration outcomes in the context of policy frameworks only (Joris Michelsen, CeMIS); the need to design studies of the agency of migrants as important factor in the process of integration (Katarzyna Gmaj, LU); the need to stress and problematise the limited focus on vulnerable migrants and their specific needs across the studied countries (Heaven Crawley, Advisory Board). Participants put under discussion the country typologies in the patterns of migrant integration. They also agreed that the results from the presented comparison can be used to feed into useful recommendations for improvement of monitoring and integration mechanisms for vulnerable migrants at both national and EU level.


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events-1677SELDI Policy Forum: Good Governance Agenda for Southeast Europe: the Role of Civil Society and the European Institutionshttps://csd.bg/events/event/seldi-policy-forum-good-governance-agenda-for-southeast-europe-the-role-of-civil-society-and-the-e/On 24 and 25 February 2015 SELDI presented the key findings and policy recommendations from the first two years of the initiative in Brussels. The conclusions from the SELDI Regional Anti-Corruption Report: Anti-Corruption Reloaded: Assessment of Southeast Europe were discussed with representatives of the civil society, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. Given the major significance of the good governance and anti-corruption issue in Southeast Europe and the prospects of the countries from the region of joining the EU, the event aimed to contribute to promoting the civil society - state dialogue in identifying effective counter-measures and possibilities for future collaboration among all stakeholders. The forum charted the needed governance reforms to prepare the countries for accession once the enlargement freeze of the EU is lifted.On 24 and 25 February 2015SELDI presented the key findings and policy recommendations from the first two years of the initiative in Brussels. The conclusions from the SELDI Regional Anti-Corruption Report: Anti-Corruption Reloaded: Assessment of Southeast Europe were discussed with representatives of the civil society, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. Given the major significance of the good governance and anti-corruption issue in Southeast Europe and the prospects of the countries from the region of joining the EU, the event aimed to contribute to promoting the civil society - state dialogue in identifying effective counter-measures and possibilities for future collaboration among all stakeholders. The forum charted the needed governance reforms to prepare the countries for accession once the enlargement freeze of the EU is lifted.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy, welcomed the participants at the policy forum and briefly discussed the history and main objectives of the SELDI initiative, including the first SELDI action, implemented in 2001 in the region of Southeast Europe (SEE). According to Dr. Stoyanov, the latest Regional Corruption Assessment Report (RAR) is empowering the civil society sector to participate in the policy-making process by providing valuable anti-corruption arguments and policy recommendations. He noted that anti-corruption should be practical activity, based on mutual understanding and cooperation between civil society organisaitons (CSOs) and governmental institutions. Dr. Stoyanov highlighted the main results and indicators of the research activities implemented in the SEE countries during the first two years of the SLEDI initiative.

Dr. Hansjörg Brey, Executive Director of the Southeast Europe Association and Member of the SELDI International Advisory Board moderated the discussion. Dr. Andrey Kovachev, Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Foreign Affairs provided introductory remarks, highlighting the importance of anti-corruption and good governance, and particularly their relevance to political independence, free media and overall transparency. Dr. Kovachev praised the work of the SELDI network and the quality of the Regional Anti-corruption report, which is employing not only perception-based approach but is also focusing on the actual participation in corruption practices. According to Dr. Kovachev, asset confiscation from corruption cases could be an important contribution to the fight against corruption.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the Southeast Europe Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) initiative, Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main findings, conclusions, policy and practical recommendations of the RAR, underlining the importance of the collaboration between CSOs and governmental actors at the local level. Mr. Stefanov briefly examined the Corruption Monitoring System (CMS), focusing on the corruption victimization indicators. The data demonstrates that although the corruption dynamics vary across the Western Balkans and Turkey, all countries continue to experience considerable corruption problems.

The citizens of Southeast Europe prove to be highly aware of the social phenomenon. Corruption pressure exercised on the part of the national administrations is particularly challenging. Mr. Stefanov described the role of civil society as essential for improving governance in the region but also cautioned that CMS data shows the sector is continuously failing to effectively tackle the corruption phenomenon. This has lowered the trust in CSOs as society is increasingly starting to perceive the sector to be corrupt. Therefore, additional transparency on the part of the CSOs is needed in pursue of increased credibility.

The activities of the SELDI coalition are based on three major pillars: awareness, monitoring and advocacy. In this context, Mr. Stefanov outlined the three critical recommendations of the report Anti-Corruption Reloaded: Assessment of Southeast Europe:

• Deliver an effective prosecution of high-level corruption - sentencing of corrupt top echelon public officials and politicians provides a strong incentive and has proven very effective in strengthening anticorruption measures.
• Adopt an independent corruption and anti-corruption monitoring mechanism - instruments should be implemented through national and/or regional civil society network(s), and be independent of direct national government funding. Such initiatives should serve as a vehicle for opening up administrative data collection and public access to information.
• Anti-corruption efforts should be focused on critical sectors – including energy, public procurement, corporate governance of state owned enterprises, large-scale investment projects.

Mr. Morten Jung, Head of Unit, Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programming, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, discussed the European Commission’s instruments for delivering good governance solutions in Southeast Europe. Rule of law was identified as the underlying factor towards EU accession. According to Mr. Jung, the Union acknowledges that it is not a corruption-free area and has started to address the challenge accordingly, integrating the fight against corruption across the majority of EU policy areas. Corruption is neither solely political, nor simply a moral issue, but a practical problem generating significant financial loses and enabling organized crime. Thus the European Commission is continuously working to adopt innovative tools and approaches in pursue of strengthening the good governance in the region.

Mr. Radu Cotici, Head of Secretariat, Regional Anticorruption Initiative, presented the Southeast Europe 2020 Strategy, as an instrument for regional cooperation for good governance. Concentrating on growth, while mirroring the EU 2020 Strategy, the initiative is designed to specifically suit the SEE regional characteristics. The SEE 2020 Strategy is based on five pillars, among which is the “Governance for Growth“ pillar, targeting effective public services and anti-corruption, and focusing on the effect of anticorruption and hidden economy for facilitating environment for growth. Anti-corruption measures include, among others, enforcing political will and commitment; transparency to increase effectiveness; prevention, mainly in the form of trainings; and involvement of civil society. The SEE2020 anti-corruption targets focus on transparent rules, competitive procedures, public awareness, revision and control, and on building capacities of anti-corruption agencies.

Dr. Doris Pack, Member of the SELDI International Advisory Board, put the enlargement process and the integration of the Western Balkans into a different perspective. Dr. Pack urged the participants to have a closer look into the details of corruption, specifically with regard to the judicial systems and rule of law, and the existing networks between politicians, business and media. Education is another sector where corruption is often rampant. Dr. Pack highlighted the lack of integrity of some non-governmental organisations, which sole aim is to absorb EU funding. In this context, she noted that financing must be allocated properly and purposefully. Practical approach on the ground is also essential prerequisite for impact and effective action against corruption.

Ms. Daniela Mineva, Coordinator, Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity, moderated the second session of the SELDI policy forum, which focused on opportunities for synergy and cooperation among civil society stakeholders. Mr. Henk Visser, Justice and Home Affairs - Western Balkans and Turkey, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiation, European Commission once again touched upon the importance of trust and integrity in the work of the civil society sector. According to Mr. Visser, the role of CSOs must be based on credibility, ensuring all products are evidence-based and of high standard. The role of the civil society organisations is to inform and educate, monitor and expose, advocate and advise.

Mr. Garret Tankosic-Kelly, Principal, South-East Europe Change Net presented the activities and results of the work of the network. According to him, CSOs should improve their capacity for collaboration both internally within the sector and with related governmental and EU institutions. The later, on the other hand, should be more focused and consistent in their work and programme priorities. Independent judiciary was described as the underlying ingredient for an effective anti-corruption action. Mr. Kelly provided examples of numerous corruption-related cases from the Western Balkans region, specifically in the energy and mining sectors.

According to Mr. Miodrag Milosavljevic, Program Coordinator, Transparency, Accountability and Public Integrity, Open Society Foundation - Serbia, there is no integrity culture to curb anti-corruption. Favouritism exists as proposals by civil society are largely neglected if put forward by NGOs with no connections to certain political class. According to Mr. Milosavljevic, there are generally three types of strategies adopted by the civil society organisations, which choose to support the governmental agenda - to exclusively oppose it, to take the middle ground, or to collaborate with selected public institutions. The project “Transparency, Accountability and Public Integrity” has chosen the latter, identifying institutions with high integrity to work with.

Ms. Tinatin Ninua, Department: Regional Work: Europe & Central Asia, Transparency International, Berlin, presented an initiative aiming to improve the knowledge and capacity for monitoring anti-corruption, and enhance regional cooperation between CSOs and governmental institutions. The project utilizes national integrity system methodology in seven countries. The activity includes producing of national reports, and it is currently developing methodology for tracking corruption, which would monitor the implementation of the national report`s recommendations. Whistleblower protection is planned as additional focus of the research.

Ms. Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska, Programme Analyst, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office, FYR of Macedonia, presented the UNDP`s work on good governance in the SEE region. The main areas of intervention of the UNDP in SEE focus on policy development, promotion of transparency and accountability, and awareness of civil society and citizens. According to Ms. Stefanovska-Trajanoska the use of open data and social media could make a difference in the fight against corruption.

Mr. Mark Worth, Project Manager, International Whistleblower Project, Blueprint for Free Speech, presented his work in the area of whistleblower protection. According to Mr. Worth, the laws to protect whistleblowers are a good example of constructive collaboration between civil society and governmental organisations. Being a relatively new domain, whistleblower legislation is largely consulted with the non-governmental sector. The region of Southeast Europe is by far the most active region to introduce or improve related legislation.

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events-1679Policy Forum: Good Governance Agenda for Southeast Europe: Risks and Challenges Towards an EU Energy Unionhttps://csd.bg/events/event/policy-forum-good-governance-agenda-for-southeast-europe-risks-and-challenges-towards-an-eu-energy/On 24 February 2015, CSD organized in Brussels a policy forum addressing the main obstacles before the creation of the EU Energy Union, focusing in particular on governance implications for Southeastern Europe in the context of the sizable shifts in the national energy policy of individual member States and amid rising tensions with Russia. The event served as a platform for discussion of the future options for energy market integration in Southeast Europe, the challenges of local bad governance, and the obstacles before a regional energy strategy.On 24 February 2015, CSD organized in Brussels a policy forum addressing the main obstacles before the creation of the EU Energy Union, focusing in particular on governance implications for Southeastern Europe in the context of the sizable shifts in the national energy policy of individual member States and amid rising tensions with Russia. The event served as a platform for discussion of the future options for energy market integration in Southeast Europe, the challenges of local bad governance, and the obstacles before a regional energy strategy.

Mr. Vladimir Urutchev, MEP, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, opened the discussion by saying that the EU has significantly advanced its common energy policy since 2007. According to Mr. Urutchev, the key ingredient in the renewed attempt for energy policy coordination, has been the increasing energy security risks in Europe. The two natural gas crises in 2006 and 2009 were a wake-up call for the EU to elaborate mechanisms for gas supply disruption mitigation. One option, Mr. Urutchev has suggested, is the expansion of investment in regional energy market integration infrastructure. However, an obstacle to a common regional approach is that EU member states are often reluctant to give up their sovereignty in defining their national energy priorities. According to Mr. Urutchev, the successful implementation of the Energy Union will be most beneficial to the countries in Southeast Europe where energy security risks could undermine their political cohesion and economic development.

Dr. Edward Chow, Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, gave an overview of the global energy developments by discussing the prospects for the unconventional revolution in the US at the backdrop of lower oil prices. Dr. Chow dismissed the notion that lower oil prices will drive shale producers out of the market. As an evidence, he reminded that the US shale gas producers did not reduce their production despite falling gas prices across the US due to innovation gains in efficiency. Dr. Chow said the EU could benefit from the US experience of taking advantage of the economies of scale in the energy sector. He added that the EU should promote more competition on the energy market because competition drives efficiency and innovation. According to him, in order to expand the market competition, the EU should promote regional integration especially in areas such as Southeast Europe, where energy security risks have led to high energy import prices. Dr. Chow expressed his skepticism about the successful completion of the Turkish Stream, and stressed that only one line, solely dedicated to supplying the Turkish market, could be an economically viable option.

Mr. Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the main findings of the 2014 Energy Sector Governance and Energy (In)Security in Bulgaria report analyzing the key energy security risks and governance challenges for Bulgaria’s energy policy. His presentation went over the main energy security risks as addressed by the International Index for Energy Security Risks (IIESR) published by the US Institute for 21st Century Energy. The Index considers eight main factors influencing the energy security of the 75 largest energy consumers in the world. Bulgaria has been ranked 73rd with a score close to Serbia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Mr. Vladimirov explained that among the main challenges Bulgaria faces are energy expenditure volatility, energy intensity, as well as the country’s very low incomes and high, energy poverty rates. He specifically focused on the impact of bad governance on the country’s energy options, noting it increased the country’s energy security risks. The capture of Bulgaria’s energy policy and its implications for the energy security of the country and the region is most visible in the management of the Bulgarian section of the South Stream gas pipeline project. Lack of transparency and allegations for state capture risks became visible in the actions of the Hungarian and Bulgarian governments in amending their energy laws as to circumvent the EU’s legal objections against the South Stream project.

Dr. Jean-Arnold Vinois, Adviser on European Energy Policy, Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute, presented his views on the strong and weak sides of the Commission’s plan to launch an Energy Union. He maintained that the Energy Union’s most important benefit will be in facilitating close cooperation between the member-states. Even before the current project, the Baltic region has been seen as a successful example of market integration. In order to emulate the Baltic example, he added that the Energy Union should introduce a monitoring and evaluation mechanism of bilateral energy agreements, making sure that European energy law is being observed. Dr. Vinois pointed to the intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) struck between Gazprom and the member-states participating in the South Stream projects for containing provisions that directly violate the Third Energy Liberalization Package. He maintained that by ensuring transparency of the member-states’ deals with third parties, the Commission would enforce compliance with the internal energy market easier. Dr. Vinois also expressed hope that the Energy Union roadmap will create a European framework for the security of gas and electricity supply. The latter requires stronger leadership and authority from the European Commission. The driver behind the change in energy markets will be, on the one hand, the revolution in information technology, and, on the other, the active participation of the civil society in the policy debate. The latter would be crucial for building up cooperation mechanisms in the energy sector of the SEE region.

Mr. Reinis Āboltiņš, Senior Policy Researcher, Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS, expressed his conviction that in the long term, the shale gas revolution in the US would also lead to a reduction of regional gas prices in Europe. Mr. Āboltiņš contended that energy price reductions could happen only if there is enough competition. He pointed to the Baltic region as a case study. The opening of the Latvian electricity market has led to a fall in power tariffs below the regulated prices maintained by political pressure. Similar degree of liberalization, according to Mr. Āboltiņš, has not been achieved in the natural gas market despite the structural prerequisites for more competition and diversification of sources. The commissioning of the Klaipeda floating LNG terminal (FLNG) has become a game changer for the whole region giving access to the three Baltic countries to alternative gas supply from Norway. However, Latvia has been reluctant to cooperate more closely on the regional gas market, which Mr. Āboltiņš implied, could be the product of external influence and the capture of policy-making circles.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator, Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity , CSD who moderated the forum, noted that SEE countries face the double challenge of achieving bold transition in their energy sectors, while at the same time improving governance to be better able to uphold their national interests. Currently, all too often SEE countries are not in a position to define their national priorities, and their national policies fall prey to private interests.







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events-1675Workshop: Public Institutions’ and CSOs’ Role in Countering Tax Evasion and Fraudhttps://csd.bg/events/event/workshop-public-institutions-and-csos-role-in-countering-tax-evasion-and-fraud/On 18 February 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy, in collaboration with the Center for Research and Policy Making organized a workshop dedicated to the public institutions’ and CSOs’ role in countering tax evasion and fraud in Skopje.On 18 February 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), in collaboration with the Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) organized a workshop dedicated to the public institutions’ and CSOs’ role in countering tax evasion and fraud in Skopje. Dr. Marija Risteska, President of the Center for Research and Policy Making and Ms Ana Mickovska – Raleva, Analyst at CRPM welcomed the participants and presented the initiative for analyzing the trends and manifestations of the hidden economy in Macedonia, financed by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented CSD’s experience in monitoring the hidden economy at national and regional level, implemented since 1998. He welcomed the stronger stance that the EU is taking on the issue and underlined that a single country cannot tackle the problem without relying on its partners. Mr. Stefanov stressed that analyzing the hidden economy is important due to three reasons: (a) it shows the overall level of efficiency of the state and the trust between society and the institutions; (b) the hidden economy affects the most vulnerable groups; and (c) not all of the hidden economy is negative and governments should not necessarily target the newly created businesses. In that respect he noted that the transition from control-based to compliance governance is a challenge for all countries in the region.

Ms Slavica Kiroska, Deputy Chief General Inspection, Public Revenue Office (PRO) underlined that the Public Revenue Office is historically perceived as repressive body, however it is currently working on changing its image as public organization providing high quality services and efficient collection of taxes. The Office aims to encourage the voluntary payment of taxes. It started to differentiate between the different types of taxpayers, and to target its measures towards the key risks groups. The Contact Center at the PRO provides information and consultations to taxpayers. The Office also collaborates with the business sector, informs it about the new rules adopted in the legislation, and trains companies to work with the new electronic systems for payment of the taxes. The electronic process has proven to be highly beneficial. It decreases the risk of human errors, saves time for collecting and analyzing tax information and identifies potential fraud risks. According to the available data, the taxes paid voluntarily increased from 77,000 in 2007 to 237,399 in 2013. The adopted electronic system contributed to a large degree for this positive result. At the moment all company taxpayers are connected electronically and similar system is being prepared for the physical persons. Ms Kiroska presented the work of the IT Forensic Laboratory, which performs financial and accounting analysis of the taxpayers, and evaluates the information from the electronic system. She underlined that Macedonia has adopted the reverse charge system aiming to tackle the tax evasion and VAT fraud. In conclusion she noted that the General Tax Inspectorates prepare annual and monthly control plans, including risk indicators for all types of taxpayers.

Ms Suzana Petrovska, Sector Manager at the Macedonian Financial Police presented the role of the financial police in detecting tax fraud and other forms of crime according to the provisions in the Criminal Code. The Financial Police works in the areas of money laundering, corruption, computer crimes, tax evasion, etc. Financial investigation is implemented every time when there is a criminal investigation in order to discover the source of the illegally obtained funds. The Financial Police can enforce and apply special investigation methods with the approval of the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor is in charge of the pre-trial procedure. Ms Petrovska highlighted that the Financial Police has online access to the real estate and cadaster registers, and most classified registers, which greatly facilitates its work.

Mr. Emil Shurkov, Analyst at the Center for Research and Policy Making presented an analysis of the policies and data from a survey on the hidden economy, tax evasion and fraud in Macedonia. He stressed that these phenomena affect the most vulnerable groups such as the young unemployed, and the poor. The tax evasion is evaluated at 1 trillion Euros in 2013 or 7.9% of the EU-28 GDP. According to the survey, a third of the employed receive “envelope wages”, and more than half of the employed have “contracts with hidden clauses”. A total of 58.6% of the business respondents recommend that more effective incentives for the business are applied in order to decrease the tax evasion and 60% of the companies consider the taxes higher than they should be; 55% of the respondents declare that frequently or sometimes the companies hide their turnover and evade taxes. In 2013, 110 irregularities were detected by the financial police, totaling 11 million Euro in lost revenues. They include tax evasion, falsifying documents, money laundering, destroying business journals, abuse of positions, unlawfully privileging creditors, etc. Mr. Shurkov concluded that there are positive trends observed in the size of the collected taxes, however systematic problems persist such as not issuing of fiscal receipts, VAT manipulation and tax evasion.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy highlighted that a major problem for the business presents the uncertainty of the legislative changes, and the quality of the service provided by the tax administration. He underlined that the administration should be able to check in several weeks if the return of a VAT credit contains fraud risk or not, and proceed with the payments without further delay. The tax rates are not high, however due to the fact that few people pay social securities, the Macedonian tax revenue and financial system is difficult to sustain. He recommended public oversight over the work of the tax authorities ensuring that all fraudulent companies are investigated and there is no political protection.

Ms Daniela Mineva, Research Fellow at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the EU initiatives in countering VAT fraud. She noted the need of speeding up the VAT refund process and the need of further increase of the excise duties. She also presented the key conclusions from the EC regular reports for Macedonia, which list as positive developments the use of electronic tax returns, the introduction of the reverse charge system, the changes in the Law on Personal Income Tax aiming at more flexibility, and the intensified inspections.

The discussion focused on the policy options for tackling the hidden economy and tax evasion. The participants underlined the necessity of social dialogue, and intensified collaboration between all stakeholders. Dr. Marija Risteska, President of the Center for Research and Policy Making concluded the discussion with the suggestion for setting up of a task force on countering the hidden economy in Macedonia, which will include the government, the employees’ organizations, trade unions and the CSOs.



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events-1688Training: The links between corruption and organized crime: tools and methods https://csd.bg/events/event/training-the-links-between-corruption-and-organized-crime-tools-and-methods/On 17 February 2015 the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), organized in Skopje a training on the tools and methods for monitoring and analyzing the links between corruption and organized crime. The participants included a selected group of public institutions’ administration responsible for anti-corruption and organized crime legislation and measures. On 17 February 2015 the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), organized in Skopje a training on the tools and methods for monitoring and analyzing the links between corruption and organized crime. The participants included a selected group of public institutions’ administration responsible for anti-corruption and organized crime legislation and measures.

The speakers underlined that corruption is intimately related to organized crime and tackling the two issues together is important for the long-term sustainability of anti-corruption efforts. CSD’s experts introduced Bulgaria’s experience and monitoring mechanisms and initiated a discussion on the applicability of such mechanisms to the situation in the Republic of Macedonia. They noted that an important aspect of such knowledge transfer are the opportunities for using EU membership prospects more effectively to achieve anti-corruption efficiency.

Ms Emilija Tudzarovska-Gjorgjievska, Project Officer, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), made the opening address and introduced the overall objectives of the training. She presented the SELDI results and the trends in the corruption in the years 2001, 2002 and 2014. The key factors that influence the corruption spread according to the survey results are obtaining personal gain, the failure to adhere to the laws, the ineffective policy measures, and the low salaries of the state employees. She noted that 63% of the citizens have felt corruption pressure when contacting the public administration; 73% of the business and 56% of the citizens declare that they would not take bribe if they were state employees. Citizens perceive as the most corrupt the customs, the court, and police.

Mr. Todor Yalamov, Senior Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria presented the Coalition 2000 initiative, its objectives, activities and achievements. He stressed on the importance of developing culture of accountability and integrity; reducing costs for formal business; and strengthening enforcement of the policies and legislation. He underlined that corruption is not a sickness, it is a symptom for the inefficiency of the system. He underlined that the legalization of the informal businesses is important, but it should not be selective and benefitting only one monopoly. Mr. Yalamov presented the objectives of Coalition 2000:

  • elaborate an Anticorruption Action Plan to assist reforms in 1998;
  • public awareness campaigns and reform support mechanisms;
  • serve as watchdog of the reform process.

He explained that today the Bulgarian national television is very open to criticize the policy-makers, which is not the case with the private televisions. He recommended for Macedonia to also increase the media freedom. He also underlined that public awareness is very effective, especially if targeting areas that can be tackled. In Bulgaria this was the case of the bribes taken by the traffic police. After the public campaigns on the TV the people understood their rights and started objecting to the fines in the courts. The long-term survey series produced showed that some of the policies did produce a decrease in corruption. Mr. Yalamov also recommended the use of mirror statistics for civil control over the efficiency of the customs. He warned about the possibility of emergence of quasi-NGOs after accession, based on the experience of Bulgaria. He noted the role of CSD in limiting the influence of representatives of the public institutions over the civil sector.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy stressed that in many cases in Western Europe, the authorities do not disclose the number of people prosecuted for corruption in the customs and in the police. The lack of information is the key problem when analyzing the issue – there are many reports on low-level, petty corruption, but little is discussed about the high level corruption. Mr. Stefanov discussed the different anti-corruption approaches applied in Europe. The German-Nordic approach does not regard the size of the corruption offense and imposes strict punishments in all cases. In contrast, the SEE approach, also applied in Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal, has as main characteristic the selectiveness of the punishments – small bribes are ignored, and not every case is pursued due to the high poverty in these countries. Mr. Stefanov also presented the CSD Corruption Monitoring System. He underlined that it is important for the SEE countries to use similar systems, in addition to the existing mechanisms of financial controls and inspections. He stressed that it is becoming exceedingly difficult to tackle corruption, especially by the small underfunded teams at the institutions, and there is need of engaging the wider society in support to the public institutions. The last 20 years in Bulgaria the public administration is greatly underfunded compared to the other countries, but in 2004 the administration realized they have more funding that they could spend, which lead to the challenge to decide what measures and activities should be funded with the EU funds. He noted that in 2009 and 2010 Bulgaria was successful in fighting corruption in a worsened economic situation - the public procurement declined in half, and access to bank financing dried out; and the EU funding for Bulgaria were frozen. The new government started to actively implement control and policing over all aspects of the public administration and the business, thus scrutinizing all aspects of corruption. This policy however achieve only short-term results. The levels of corruption are dynamic and change over the years, so the consistent enforcement of the policies are more important than the temporary successes of the countries achieved through different methods. He concluded that when there is systemic corruption countries need combination of economic and financial tools. The root of the problem lies on the historic dependency of the public servants on the incomes obtained regularly by bribes and other forms of corruptions. Mr. Stefanov recommended the discontinuation of the practice of massive controls over the small and micro enterprises, and called for the use of risk assessment methods and targeting the inspections towards the cases which will result in greatest return of misused public funds. He also noted that Bulgaria has a good legislation on asset declarations, but it is not used by the institutions for proactive enforcement and investigations. Mr. Stefanov concluded with three main policy recommendations:

  • Deliver effective prosecution of high-level corruption and actively peruse the discrepancies in asset declaration and the cases of conflict of interest;
  • Adopt and independent corruption and anti-corruption monitoring mechanism (but not self-assessments);
  • Anti-corruption efforts should be focused on critical sectors.


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events-1686Workshop: Promotion of Policy Briefs: The links between corruption and organized crimehttps://csd.bg/events/event/workshop-promotion-of-policy-briefs-the-links-between-corruption-and-organized-crime/On 16 February 2015 the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy, organized in Skopje a workshop dedicated to the links between corruption and organized crime.On 16 February 2015 the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy, organized in Skopje a workshop dedicated to the links between corruption and organized crime.

Ms. Emina Nuredinoskа, Head of the Department for Civil Society and Democratization at MCIC welcomed the participants and presented the activities implemented by the two CSOs. She underlined the negative impacts of corruption on the economy and the society.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of the Democracy stressed on the need of stronger civil control both on the links between corruption and organized crime, as well as on the efficiency of the government institutions that tackle these issues. He noted that due to the globalization process, corruption has turned into a complex and security problem. Weakened policy enforcement in one member state can escalate to other member states. Moreover, in the last several years an increasing varieties of crimes are observed. In that context, the issue should be dealt with in a systematic manner. The organized crime threat assessment mechanism presents a suitable instrument, which can analyse the origin and manifestations of the problem and present an early warning system. A more complex system for sharing information between the national authorities is needed to track criminals across borders, prevent VAT fraud schemes, tax evasion, etc. Mr. Stefanov also complimented MCIC for exploring as a pilot exercise this new area.

Mr. Todor Yalamov, Senior Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented two of the three policy briefs elaborated in the framework of the current initiative. He highlighted that recently the civil society has started to enter a domain previously restricted only to the secret services – the analysis of the organized crime. In Europe there are significant differences how organized crime uses corruption for its purposes, how it affects the society, and what is the public response. In most cases the petty corruption is in the focus of discussions or investigations, since it is easier to observe and prove. As of lately, however, the debate and the civil society engagement has shifted towards the grand, political corruption. Mr. Yalamov noted the most common cases of abuse of office in Bulgaria. The public procurements are among the main instruments for illegally obtaining public funds. An example presents the funding of election campaigns by private enterprises, which later receive large public procurement contracts as “payment” for their support. A second area of concern is the integrity of the judiciary. Two thirds of the population believes that judges are corrupt in Bulgaria. According to the surveys’ results, the same problem is a concern for in Macedonia. Mr. Yalamov presented the instrument for organized crime threat assessment (OCTA), first introduced by Europol. The Macedonian Ministry of Interior is currently assessing how it can adopt it in the country in order to monitor the risks of human trafficking, trafficking of drugs, stolen cars, etc. He stressed that the organized crime is a business, which adopts to the new environment and finds new methods of operation. In that respect it should be regarded and tackled as such through the OCTA mechanism and the systematic and coordinated efforts of all authorities. Another positive impact of OCTA is that instead of waiting a new type of crime to appear, the system provides a venue to foresight the next criminal activities and the possible counter-measures. Thus the organized crime threat assessment should be a regular exercise that gathers information from different sources, and brings together the institutions that usually do not cooperate with each other. It can be viewed as a process of knowledge management on the most substantive issues that need to be observed and tackled. The adoption of the mechanism will also send positive message to the public that the governments are open to public-civil society dialogue, and that the authorities themselves have integrity.

Ms. Emilija Tudzarovska-Gjorgjievska, Project Officer, Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation (MCIC) presented the third policy brief on the role of media and CSOs in investigating the links between corruption and organized crime. She stressed that unemployment and the low wages of the Macedonian citizens are considered far more pressing problems compared to corruption and organized crime. At the same time 19.8% of the survey respondents perceive that all government officials are involved in corruption, and 42.2 % believe that most are involved. Money counterfeiting, bribes, money laundering and smuggling are among the most frequently encountered organized crimes according to the Ministry of Interior. At the same time the CSOs and the media still cannot strengthen their capacity to engage in the topics and the existing control over the media distorts the public opinion. This trend is of particular concern since media has substantial influence - 28.4% of the survey respondents confirm that their opinion is formed by the media. She noted that at the same time the freedom of the media is worsening according to various analysis, including the Freedom House index on the media freedom which decreased from 5.00 in 2013 to 4.47 in 2014. She concluded that there is need of stronger regulations for ensuring media freedom, and the free access to information. The CSOs and the media need to be trained in investigation methods.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program, Center for the Study of the Democracy underlined that while it is easier to exercise control at a smaller scale, in a global economy the challenge is greater and it is important to have a formal document outlining the procedures of organized crime and corruption threat assessment. In Bulgaria CSD worked closely with the Ministry of Interior on the adoption of the threat assessment methodology. Mr. Stefanov stressed that it is more important to look into the criminal transit routes than the single local markets related to organized crime. These routes create a dent and an illegal channel in the customs and border police, which can be used for other forms of illegal trafficking, such as weapons, human trafficking, etc. The media should start asking questions about the efficiency of the authorities in countering organized crime. The civil society and the media should also investigate what is happening at the high political level. Mr. Stefanov noted a typical trend for Eastern Europe - the influence of the organized crime over the judiciary. This is not the case in Western Europe, where, even in Italy, the judiciary and the prosecutors were able to provide the final control on corruption.

During the discussion Mr. Borjan Gjuzelov, Expert at the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation (MCIC) noted that there is a vicious circle formed by the biased media which shows only one side of the story. The controlled media generates passive civil society that does not recognize the corruption and organized crime as important problems. This is confirmed by the perceptions of the respondents in the survey, according to which the corruption is the fifth most pressing problem, while in other countries it takes first or second place.

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events-1690Policy Forum: The Role of the European Union in the Western Balkans: Perspectives on the Enlargement Processhttps://csd.bg/events/event/policy-forum-the-role-of-the-european-union-in-the-western-balkans-perspectives-on-the-enlargemen/On 12 February 2015 the European Commission’s DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), in collaboration with the European Institute, organised a policy forum: The Role of the European Union in the Western Balkans: Perspectives on the Enlargement Process. The event took place at Europe House in Sofia. DG NEAR, in cooperation with partner organizations, held this policy forum as an information campaign in the Balkans to inform relevant stakeholders about the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA), the new financial framework (IPA II) and the successful implementation of some selected projects in the Western Balkans.On 12 February 2015 the European Commission’s DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), in collaboration with the European Institute, organised a policy forum: The Role of the European Union in the Western Balkans: Perspectives on the Enlargement Process. The event took place at Europe House in Sofia. DG NEAR, in cooperation with partner organizations, held this policy forum as an information campaign in the Balkans to inform relevant stakeholders about the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA), the new financial framework (IPA II) and the successful implementation of some selected projects in the Western Balkans.

The first session focused on the presentation of the role of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) in the Balkans, while the second session deepened the Bulgarian perspective on co-operation. The key speakers at the first session were Mr Henk Visser from DG NEAR, Mr Eric Vincken, representing the consortium GIZ and Center for International Legal Cooperation dealing with the Regional Prosecutors Network project and Mr Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presenting the main findings and impact of the SELDI anti-corruption initiative. They provided a comprehensive overview of the work and the benefit that IPA provides to the West Balkans, and the EU as a whole. The second session featured mainly representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice: Mr. Vladimir Shopov, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Bulgaria and Dr. Atanas Slavov, Advisor to the Minister of Justice, Republic of Bulgaria. Ms Maria Prohaska, Director of Centеr for Economic Development also shared her perspective of the Bulgarian cooperation in the framework of the EU assistance programmes.

The event attracted several high level invitees, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Daniel Mitov, Ambassadors of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania as well as relevant civil society organizations. The Bulgarian authorities showed their support to the EU enlargement process, and stated their engagement on tackling the EU’s key concerns, notably corruption. The event was featured extensively in the media.

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events-1673Round table: Anti-Corruption Measures in Law Enforcement Institutions and Agencieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-anti-corruption-measures-in-law-enforcement-institutions-and-agencies/On 3 February 2015 the Centеr for the Study of Democracy (CSD), together with representatives of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), held a round table discussion on anti-corruption measures in law enforcement institutions. The goal of the discussion was tо develop instruments which can reliably monitor and assess the anti-corruption efforts of the Ministry of Interior. On 3 February 2015 the Centеr for the Study of Democracy (CSD), together with representatives of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), held a round table discussion on anti-corruption measures in law enforcement institutions. The goal of the discussion was tо develop instruments which can reliably monitor and assess the anti-corruption efforts of the Ministry of Interior.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst at the Security Program of the Center commented on the widespread corruption in MoI. He referred to Eurobarometer studies which consistently rank Bulgaria in the first or second places in terms of corruption. While in Romania and Lithuania which belonged to the same group corruption is decreasing, in Bulgaria there is stagnation at high levels of corruption. According to Mr. Bezlov, mass corruption is easy to register and evaluate. It is also the only type of corruption from which politicians do not benefit.

Mr. Bezlov noted the significant decrease in the level of traffic police corruption, which was a result from the 2013 prohibition placed on the Security Police to stop cars for traffic violations. On the other hand, following the ban, road accidents doubled during the same year. Data for 2014 shows record high levels of corruption in Bulgaria.

Commenting on the effectiveness of technical measures and more specifically on the use of traffic cameras, Mr. Bezlov noted that in this way more than 40 000 violations are recorded in Sofia alone, but attention is paid to only 10% of them. The main issue is the lack of a working preventive anti-corruption instrument in the Ministry of Interior. Instead most emphasis is placed on the repressive element, for example the prosecution of employees for whom there have been complaints of corruption practices.

Dr. Phillip Gounev, Deputy Minister of the Interior shared the opinion that monitoring of corruption in the Ministry is a serious problem. Nevertheless, he expressed his optimism prompted by the improved approach of Traffic Police and Boarder Police as well as the solution of the financial problem. Dr. Gounev also spoke of the cameras and the installation of brand new video surveillance system along the Turkish-Bulgarian border. Still, he admitted there was an issue with monitoring the recordings and stressed the need for developing a system for analysis of the data generated by video surveillance. Another serious issue is the lack of a control mechanism prompted by the unclear methodology on cameras and GPS tracking systems. According to the Deputy Minister, it is essential to lay down methodological and control functions in the framework of the future Chief Directorate National Police. This is necessitated by the fact that for regional directorates there is no other control unit besides the Inspectorate and the latter does not have enough resources to control the estimated 1 500 employees who take a bribe daily.

Mr. Nikolay Geshev, Director of the Inspectorate Directorate at the Ministry of Interior, talked about corruption from the points of view of the employees, the citizens and the police management. On one hand, the employees of the Ministry usually start their careers with much enthusiasm only to be confronted with existential problems and with the difficult decision if they should go down the road of engaging in corruption or not. On the other hand, in the eyes of citizens these employees are over-compensated. For the directors the situation is especially delicate since an admission of existence of corruption among their subordinates would mean the former did not do their job right. Exactly because of this conflict of interest there is a need for external monitoring and assessment as well as a financial stimulus for employees of the Ministry to tackle corruption. As a factor which stimulates corrupt practices on the side of citizens, Mr. Geshev pointed to the cumbersome procedure for paying fines. Since much time is wasted in following the procedure, many drivers prefer to give bribes at the spot even when the fine is of approximately the same amount.

Dr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the approach the Center has adopted in working out an innovative instrument for monitoring of the anti-corruption policies and measures adopted by the Traffic Police and Border Police. The instrument assesses the level of corruption risk at the respective institution and based on an inventory of anti-corruption measures determines how and to what extent the anti-corruption policies have been implemented successfully.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program of the Center, drew a parallel with CSD’s 2007 anti-corruption study carried out among tax inspectors which addressed the issue of the level of remuneration which would reduce incentives for public employees to engage in corrupt practices. The result of the study showed that salaries twice the size of those currently received would be effective in this regard. In order to reach this level of pay for the employees of the Ministry of the Interior, it will be necessary to double or even triple the budget which makes such an anti-corruption measure unattainable.


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events-1671International Conference: Re-socialization of Offenders in the European Union: Enhancing the Role of Civil Societyhttps://csd.bg/events/event/international-conference-re-socialization-of-offenders-in-the-european-union-enhancing-the-role-of/On 19 January 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy held an international conference on Re-socialization of Offenders in the European Union: Enhancing the Role of Civil Society with the participation of experts from Belgium, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Italy, legal professionals and representatives of state institutions and civil society in Bulgaria.On 19 January 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy held an international conference on Re-socialization of Offenders in the European Union: Enhancing the Role of Civil Society with the participation of experts from Belgium, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Italy, legal professionals and representatives of state institutions and civil society in Bulgaria.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of CSD Law Program, welcomed the participants and briefly introduced the initiative "Re-socialization of Offenders in the European Union: Enhancing the Role of Civil Society" (RE-SOC), coordinated by the Center for the Study of Democracy with the financial support of the European Commission, Directorate General Justice. She pointed out that penitentiary reform has been accorded a special place in the updated strategy for judicial reform of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Mr. Andrey Yankulov, Deputy Minister of Justice, stressed the importance of independent monitoring of places of detention, which can identify problems that have remained hidden from state institutions. He stated that in this regard the Ministry of Justice would continue to maintain close cooperation with NGOs.

In his statement, Mr. Konstantin Penchev, Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, stressed that the issue of re-socialization unavoidably raises the question to what extent people are de-socialized in the places of detention. He called for urgent measures in the area of juvenile justice and social rehabilitation of children leaving places of detention, and congratulated the Ministry of Justice for developing a new strategy for judicial reform, which for the first time includes the protection of human rights amongst its objectives. Finally, Mr. Penchev emphasized the Ombudsman’s responsibility to protect the rights of both prisoners and staff in the Bulgarian penitentiary system.

Mr. Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst at the CSD’s Law Program, presented the Prison Conditions Monitoring Index developed within the initiative’s framework. He explained the Index’s aims, indicators and data collection methodology, and presented the results of the tool’s pilot testing in nine prisons in Bulgaria, Germany, Spain and Lithuania.

Mr. Lyubomir Krilchev, Director of the National Preventive Mechanism and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Directorate, Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, presented the international and national legal framework of the National Preventive Mechanism, responsible for monitoring places of detention in Bulgaria.

Mr. Alessio Scandurra, Antigone Association, Italy, presented the research project "Detention conditions in the EU" conducted by the European Prison Observatory (prisonobservatory.org). He talked about the study’s aims and conclusions regarding the inadequate state of prisons in the EU and mentioned a number of good practices identified by the researchers.

Dr. Martynas Vasiliauskas, Principal Legal Adviser, Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen of the Republic of Lithuania, shared his experience in protecting prisoners’ rights in Lithuania. He stressed that most of the problems in the penitentiary system are due to a lack of political interest in prisoners’ rights.

In the afternoon session, Ms. Anna Lyubenova, Secretary and Board member of the Initiative for Health Foundation, presented the problems related to drug use and HIV in prisons, paying special attention to the lack of adequate treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation programs for addicts. In addition, Ms. Lyubenova familiarized the participants with the organization’s latest initiative “Swiss-Bulgarian cooperation on reducing drug and HIV problem in prisons”.

Prof. Dr. Christine Graebsch and Dr. Sven-Uwe Burkhardt, University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Dortmund, Germany, presented their research on ambulant sanctions as an alternative to imprisonment in the EU. They talked about the problems and potential of non-custodial sanctions, but warned that there is lack of comparative data concerning the effectiveness of alternative sanctions due to the difficulties associated with conducting research in this area.

Ms. Veronika Minkova, Junior consultant, ICF International, Justice and Home Affairs Team, presented the experience of ICF in implementing European and national studies and evaluations in the fields of criminal justice, imprisonment and detention. She mentioned selected assignments from the company's portfolio, including policy analyses and evaluations of projects in the areas of human rights of crime victims and convicted offenders, children in legal proceedings, migration and asylum, and visa policy.

During the discussion Assoc. Prof. Emil Madzharov, lecturer in penitentiary psychology at the Southwestern University, mentioned the existing standard developed by the General Directorate Execution of Penalties in collaboration with British experts in 2009, which is however not applied in practice. Mr. Dimitar Markov expressed the Law Program’s willingness to integrate the Prison Conditions Monitoring Index with other existing models in order to create a working and applicable tool. Ms. Lilyana Sabeva, Secretary of the Supervisory Commission, Sofia Municipal Council, proposed for the supervisory commissions created by the Law on the Execution of Penalties and Detention in Custody to be used as a resource for strengthening the role of civil society in the implementation of sanctions and for NGOs to be involved in the conduct of trainings in places of detention. Mr. Dinko Kunchev, Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation, recalled that the topics on the agenda have been discussed for many years and there have been good ideas and strategies, which however have not been applied in practice due to lack of political will. He also expressed regret that the Council on the Execution of Penalties does no longer function. Mr. Rosen Zhelyazkov, General Director of the General Directorate Execution of Penalties, informed the participants that the reactivation of the Council on the Execution of Penalties is one of his priorities as Director, and that the number of prisoners in the country has decreased from 8800 to 7600 persons, which has reduced prison overcrowding. He explained that, given the standards set in the Law on the Execution of Penalties and Detention in Custody, which must be met by 2019, nine detention facilities have been closed and steps have been taken to build new places of detention and to improve the existing ones. Mr. Alessio Scandurra clarified the impact of the European Court of Human Rights on the reform of the penitentiary system in Italy. Dr. Martynas Vasiliauskas, Prof. Dr. Christine Graebsch and Dr. Sven-Uwe Burkhardt and Dr. Alejandro Forero Cuellar shared the experiences of their respective countries in reducing overcrowding and improving the protection of prisoners’ rights.



Prison Conditions Monitoring Index: Methodology and Pilot Results
Vulnerable Groups of Prisoners: A Handbook
Ambulant sanction as an alternative to imprisonment in the European Union

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events-1669Round Table: Countering Radicalisation and Terrorism Threats in Europehttps://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-countering-radicalisation-and-terrorism-threats-in-europe/On 8 January 2015, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table discussion on countering radicalisation and terrorism threats in Europe. The keynote presenter at the event was Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.On 8 January 2015 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table discussion on countering radicalisation and terrorism threats in Europe. The keynote presenter at the event was Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the discussion and stressed that the latest attacks in France have confirmed that the terrorist threats in Europe, including the phenomenon of radicalisation, can only be addressed through common efforts by government, international and civil society institutions.

Mr. De Kerchove laid emphasis on the alarming nature of the terrorist attack in France. He described recent international and regional developments shaping the terrorist landscape and expressed his concern about the growing threat posed by ISIS as the most resourceful terrorist organisation at the moment, not least due to the increasing number of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) joining its ranks. Mr. De Kerchove provided a comprehensive overview of the policy response at the EU level, and highlighted the importance the FTF issue has received in a recent legally-binding Resolution 2178 adopted by the UN Security Council. Mr. De Kerchove described the four main pillars of policy measures at the EU level towards countering radicalisation: prevention, detection of suspicious travel, pursuing FTF through criminal law, and external engagement with third countries. He pointed out that prevention is one of the most important pillars, yet there has been a delayed implementation of such measures in the EU due to the difficult and sensitive nature of potential approaches to understanding and responding to factors for radicalisation. There is a pressing need to develop local capabilities at the front-line to recognise early signs of radicalisation processes, in which engaging civil society and local communities plays a key role. In this context, the relationship between the intelligence communities and the local social services is of paramount importance to countering radicalisation and dealing with foreign fighters. He added that the fact that these two have been brought closer is a major success. Mr. De Kerchove touched upon important questions, such as what the motivational factors leading more people to go to Syria are, or how authorities can use the internet pro-actively to deliver a counter-narrative to vulnerable groups. Describing the other three pillars of measures, Mr. De Kerchove laid particular emphasis on a number of challenges, including the need to maximise intelligence sharing through existing tools in order to detect suspicious travel; to pursue foreign fighters through criminal law, but also through alternative measures especially when it comes to returnees.

Dr. Philip Gounev, Deputy Minister of Interior, expressed the view that more debates of this kind should be organised in Bulgaria to foster high-level expert discussion on prevention and countering terrorism. He pointed at the establishment of a Counterterrorism Centre at the State Agency for National Security in 2014 as a step ahead in building the country’s capacity in countering and preventing terrorism. He also underlined that the efforts of the country’s law enforcement to detect, prevent and counter terrorism should be reinforced by cooperation with domestic analytical institutes, as well as with the civil society sector in engaging with local communities. The Deputy Minister posed the question about the possibilities of information sharing with FRONTEX and as regards forecasts on refugee inflows.

Mr. Anyu Angelov, Defence Adviser to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, emphasised the importance of information sharing among Member States as a critical tool in countering terrorist threats. He also stressed the need of further technical and financial support from FRONTEX for the reinforcement of the Bulgarian border with Turkey which is of geopolitical and strategic importance in detecting and countering infiltration of terrorists.


Dr. Emil Tsenkov, Senior Fellow, Security Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, underlined that the civil sector in Bulgaria could play an important role in counter-terrorist efforts by monitoring of radicalisation processes, providing analysis of counter-terrorism response, and fostering bridges of cooperation between law enforcement and local communities.



In the following discussion Mr. De Kerchove answered and commented on a number of questions raised by participants. He emphasised the importance of EU information sharing tools such as Europol, SIS and the enforcement of comprehensive approach to counter terrorism by coherent measures of prevention, detection and pursuit of offenders. He also emphasised that despite the intensified efforts of the EU to confront the foreign fighters’ issue, it needs to continue engaging with vulnerable countries from the Middle East and Africa, including countries of origin, transit or sponsor countries.




Photo Gallery

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events-1663Eleventh Anti-Corruption Policy Forum: Anti-Corruption Policies against State Capture https://csd.bg/events/event/eleventh-anti-corruption-policy-forum-anti-corruption-policies-against-state-capture/On 11 December 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy organized the Eleventh Anti-Corruption Policy Forum. During the event CSD presented and discussed the Corruption Assessment Report: Anti-Corruption Policies against State Capture. In this tenth report, the Center for the Study of Democracy provides an overview of the state of corruption and anticorruption in Bulgaria in 2013 – 2014.On 11 December 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy organized the Eleventh Anti-Corruption Policy Forum.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the discussion by pointing out that political corruption had reached its peak, and it went beyond the corruption scandals associated with the judicial system. He put an emphasis on the alarming statistics from 2014 which had measured the highest levels of corruption in the country for the past 15 years. Dr. Shentov pointed the management of large infrastructure projects such as Belene and South Stream as an example of state capture by foreign and local private interests.

Ms. Roumyana Bachvarova, Deputy Prime Minister, congratulated the Center for the Study of Democracy for its efforts in preparing the Corruption Assessment Report, describing it as highly argumentative, having the potential to at least partially end the speculations associated with the corruption topic, and also due to be actively publicized. Ms. Bachvarova admitted that there were no actual results in the fight against corruption, that the authorities did not function properly and that sanctions were ineffective. She pointed out the main subjects of corruption – on one hand these are the civil servants who are the so-called "active environment" of corruption, and on the other - the politicians, who are characterized as "equally guilty and involved". According to Ms. Bachvarova firm political action is the only solution that can help in the fight against corruption. Bulgaria needs a new anti-corruption action plan, which has to present a true perspective for the country. She stated that when developing the action plan, the conclusions and recommendations given by the Center for the Study of Democracy would be taken into account. She continued by saying that transparency at all government levels was a necessity and could be used as a preventive measure. Ms. Bachvarova also discussed the issue of corruption in public procurement, noting that the data on products paid with public funds should be part of the public domain. Ms. Bachvarova discussed the necessity of further measures, such as the adoption of ethical standards for different occupations, the regulation of lobbying and the amendments in NGO registration. She announced the government plans for creation of a centralized authority or portal, which would collect corruption signals at the central level. Ms. Bachvarova underlined that the government must immediately begin to reform the judicial system, although this may take more than one political term.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the main conclusions of the Corruption Assessment Report for 2014. He pointed out that Bulgaria was the only country in Southeast Europe, which showed corruption increase for the period 2001 - 2014, according to the Corruption Monitoring System (CMS) data. Nevertheless, corruption remains a systemic problem for the other countries of the region. He noted the positive developments in Bulgaria, characteristic of the EU Member States, such as high awareness of the problem and increasing intolerance towards corruption. At the same time, almost every second Bulgarian is subject to corruption pressure, and every third citizen was forced to participate in corruption transactions. Mr. Stefanov underlined that corruption had become an additional cost for access to administrative services. CMS data show that about 158,000 corruption transactions per month have been realized during the previous year. Mr. Stefanov provided examples of state capture, where private interests undermine the public ones - the "South Stream" saga, the "Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB)" affair and the excise coalitions. He pointed out that the problems extended in all areas - security sector, the judiciary, the police. The lack of independence of the state regulators is of particular significance. He noted that in this context using only criminal law instruments would not be effective. According to the survey more than half of the Bulgarians do not believe that corruption can be eradicated. In this respect, systemic measures, synchronized work of the institutions and increase of the confidence in the state are needed to tackle the problem. Numerous recommendations are already available in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism reports, the EU Anti-Corruption report and the reports of the Center for the Study of Democracy. He noted that it was time they were put into practice, including through personal example at the highest political level.

Mr. Konstantin Penchev, Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, noted that he was proud to attend the discussion of CSD’s Corruption Assessment Report. Mr. Penchev shared two examples which related to the work of the Ombudsman. The first example concerned the case of Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB). He started with making an overview of the facts which led to the current state of the bank. According to Mr. Penchev all developments were deliberate, aiming to bankrupt the bank so that its assets could be purchased at an unreasonably low price. It is still unclear if this will happen as the revocation of the license of the bank is being appealed. The second example, which Mr Penchev provided, concerned the reform of the judicial system. He highlighted the recent issue with the software used for random distribution of court cases and the possibility for its manipulation. According to him, the real problem is not in the software, but rather the existence of corrupt judges and court presidents. He recommended particular attention to the integrity of the staff, the way in which they are appointed and promoted. In conclusion, Mr. Penchev emphasized the need of reform and urged for its decisive and effective implementation.

Mr. Andrei Yankulov, Deputy Minister of Justice, shared one of his first impressions from the Ministry of Justice, concerning the types of crimes of the prisoners that are effectively serving time. He expressed his surprise that corruption offences are not present in the statistics and concluded that the number of persons sentenced and effectively serving prison time for corruption was negligible, and for that reason they were not included in the data. Mr. Yankulov noted that the criminal law of Bulgaria was in accordance with the international anti-corruption standards, however, the link between the law and the effective convictions is not only broken but non-existing. In conclusion, Mr. Yankulov noted that the problems Bulgaria was facing in the fight against corruption were numerous and they could be solved only with persistence.

Mr. Delyan Dobrev, Chairman of the Energy Committee of the National Assembly, discussed the serious problems in the Bulgarian energy sector. He described the tender procedure for South Stream gas pipeline as an outrageous case. Mr. Dobrev emphasized on the additional costs of the project, giving it as an example of bad governance. He also talked about the issue of public procurement and in particular the corruption practices at the state-owned mining company Mini Maritsa Iztok related to contracting the transport of workers to the mines. According to Mr. Dobrev, amendments in legislation are of crucial importance, an annual auditing of both public and private companies in the energy sector is a necessity and the staff of the Inspectorate at the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) must be expanded.

During the discussion, Mr. Ilian Vassilev, Honorary Chairman of the Bulgarian Economic Forum, pointed out that when major projects such as South Stream are contracted, there should be a practice of benchmarking the prices and costs to the ones in other countries or in similar sectors. According to him, any increase in the cost of a project or product must be justified to the public. He also confirmed that there is state capture in Bulgaria and provided as example the nontransparent and uncontrolled formation of the price of gasoline, natural gas and diesel.

Mr. Philip Gounev, Deputy Minister of Interior, noted that the capacity of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) and the Ministry of Interior was so low that only one of the cases mentioned during the discussion would fully employ the available resources. In the absence of adequate funding and due to the understaffing, the local authorities, such as mayors, remain untouchable. The problem is exacerbated by the existing links between the local authorities and the oligarchs, which leaves few opportunities for criminal investigations. According to him, there is need of massive and long-term investment in people and time, and better prioritization of the critical areas. As an example, SANS employs more people investigating drug offences, than investigating corruption. Mr. Gounev concluded by assuring that the Ministry of Interior has political will and had planned to increase the capacity of the Inspectorate.

Mr. Metodi Mitev, representative of civic organization, proposed the introduction of anti-corruption strategies in all institutions and municipalities. Mr. Stamen Tassev, Manager of the Bulgarian Center of Training Firms, presented his work on training of entrepreneurs in business skills and corporate social responsibility. He noted that during the event he also identified the need for the future entrepreneurs to be trained in anticorruption.





Mr. Christian Takov, law professor at Sofia University and Chairman of the Arbitration Court at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said that the problems in the judicial system were numerous and there is no uniform solution. According to him, it is important for the corruption cores at every single level to be identified and outlined. He also recommended the implementation of practices, tailored specifically to the needs of each institution. Mr. Takov stressed on the fact that it was impossible to achieve significant results, if one solely relied on a constitutional amendment, initiated by the National Assembly. He advocated for the increased involvement of civil law tools in the fight against corruption, and suggested the return of the state resources, taken away by corrupt practices.

Justice Pavlina Panova, Deputy Chair of the Supreme Court of Cassation and Chair of the Criminal Division of the Court noted that Bulgaria had a modern Criminal Code, which met the requirements of the Group of States against corruption (GRECO). The problem, however, is the imperfect criminal procedure tools applied in the investigation of corruption crimes. The current tools used are making the proof of corruption-related crimes a difficult task. In general, suspects are unwilling to make confessions, while key witnesses are usually placed in a state of dependence on those charged with corruption crimes. According to her, an example of good practice is the use of special investigative means, but a successful strategy requires milder means.

Ms Nelly Koutskova, judge at the Sofia Court of Appeal, pointed out that there were a lot of honest employees both in the administration and in the judiciary. She stressed that these employees must be supported and protected. In many cases, however, these people are being punished or intentionally compromised just because they have tried to fulfill their professional duty to expose corrupt practices. Mrs. Koutskova stressed that criminal measures against corruption were needed, but a parallel framework that encouraged freedom of civic initiative was also necessary.






Corruption Assessment Report: Anti-Corruption Policies against State Capture


Previous Anti-Corruption Policy Forums
Previous Corruption Assessment Reports

Media Coverage (mostly in Bulgarian)

Photo Gallery

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events-1657Workshops: The Hidden Economy in Macedonia https://csd.bg/events/event/workshops-the-hidden-economy-in-macedonia/On 27-28 November 2014 the Center for Research and Policy Making, Macedonia and the Center for the Study of Democracy organized two workshops aiming to empower the Macedonian civil society and the relevant government authorities to monitor and tackle the hidden economy. The first day was dedicated to tackling undeclared work in Macedonia, and the possibilities for utilizing local and European experience, and the second day focused on strengthening the media reporting on hidden economy and corruption.On 27-28 November 2014 the Center for Research and Policy Making, Macedonia and the Center for the Study of Democracy organized two workshops aiming to empower the Macedonian civil society and the relevant government authorities to monitor and tackle the hidden economy. The first day was dedicated to tackling undeclared work in Macedonia, and the possibilities for utilizing local and European experience, and the second day focused on strengthening the media reporting on hidden economy and corruption.

Ms Ana Mickovska-Raleva, Policy Analyst at the Center for Research and Policy Making made the opening remarks by noting the gravity of the issue of informality, which affects not only the economy, but also the whole society. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy expressed his hope that the collaboration between CRPM and CSD will result in delivering policy solutions and change in Macedonia, and will contribute to the establishment of a more stable society operating in the formal economy.

Mr. Mladen Frckovski, Advisor at the Macedonian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy described the measures which the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Ministry of Economy, and the state inspectorates implement in the framework of the 2012 Action plan for decreasing the informal economy. He noted that the authorities work to regulate the seasonal work and registering the unregistered working persons in risk sectors such as agriculture, construction and tourism. The young people are specially targeted by the measures. Hundreds of schools were visited to raise awareness and support the successful transition from the educational system to formal employment. The control over concessions of extracting industries, as well as the customs control over undeclared goods was also enhanced. Mr. Frckovsk underlined that currently, due to the high unemployment, many people prefer to work informally. In this context, the informal economy cannot be obliterated fully, but the Ministry aims to decrease it as much as possible. He pointed out that thousands of businesses have been formalized, however sustainability can be achieved only through the increased engagement of all authorities, as well as by building of a culture where all employees are encouraged to be more active in seeking their rights. He expressed his hope that the economic situation and the enforcement of rules will improve with the process of accession to the EU.

Dr. Peter Rodgers, Lecturer in Strategy and International Business, Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield presented the European experience in monitoring undeclared work. He listed the advantages and disadvantages of informal economy. Among the main disadvantages he noted the unfair competition, the inability for firms and employees to access capital and credit from banks, the lack of maternity cover, sick leaves, health and safety standards. He also underlined that customers suffer from lack of quality guarantees when purchasing informal goods or services, and the government loses state revenue. Dr. Rodgers noted that policy options for tackling these issues could include public naming of the people not paying taxes, imprisonment, improving the tax morale, simplifying the tax return system, improving the customer services, and amnesties for some individuals. In the UK a good practice used is to demonstrate to individuals exactly where their taxes have been used to improve public services. Dr. Rodgers underlined that prevention, commitment and compliance policies could have greater budget revenue impact than the punitive measures. He stressed that the way forward includes understanding the effectiveness of policy measures, and how scarce resource can be allocated efficiently to achieve optimum results.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the undeclared work trends in Bulgaria and CSD’s experience in monitoring the policy dynamics through the CSD Hidden Economy Index. He pointed out that the development of the economy has been a key factor for the downward trend of the informal economy. Bulgaria's accession into the EU provided access to grants for the trade unions and labour associations to tackle the hidden economy. He underlined that the government spending in Bulgaria could be increased, if the size of the informal economy is taken into account. At the present the social sphere, including the healthcare and education, remains under-funded. He noted that in Bulgaria the focus is placed on inspections of micro-companies and imposing of sanctions, which proved to be effective for example in collecting excise duties. Complying with these regulations however creates an extensive burden on the businesses and the results are one-off, difficult to be sustained and few in terms of fines collected. In this regard Mr. Stefanov advocated for service-oriented approach based on risk assessment, increasing the customer satisfaction, compliance and awareness. He also recommended differentiation of the measures applied - for the subsistence economy no strict measures are necessary; motivational measures without extensive sanctioning should be used to counter the hidden economy, and market and punitive measures should be used when the hidden economy starts to merge with the criminal economy. Regarding the latter, Mr. Stefanov underlined that the hidden economy and corruption often reinforce each other. He referred to the results of the SELDI Regional Anti-corruption Report, according to which corruption is widespread and generally accepted by the population. In conclusion he stressed on the importance of systematic evaluation of the impact of the measures. He pointed out that the people at the top of the political power should lead by example and higher compliance standards should apply to them.

Mr. Emil Shurkov, Policy Analyst at the Center for Research and Policy Making made a review of the policies applied in Macedonia. According to different measuring approaches the hidden economy in Macedonia varies between 24%-47%. He explained that during the transition period characterized by fast development of SMEs operating in cash, various informal practices emerged. He highlighted that the main factors for the existence of the informal economy in Macedonia are the size of the taxes and the low tax morality, as well as the high levels of unemployment (28,4% for the second half of 2014, of which 54.6% youth unemployment in 2014, and 82.1% long term unemployment in 2012). Mr. Shurkov also presented preliminary results from the business and population surveys performed by CRPM based on the CSD hidden economy monitoring methodology. The data shows that 27.3% of the Macedonians declare a salary based on the minimum wage, although their real salary is higher; about 40% of the employees are partially or fully undeclared, and about half of the employers confirm the use of practices related to labour contracts with hidden clauses. The analysis also reveals that people of 15-34 years of age and students are most likely to enter into informal labour. He concluded by expressing his hope that during the next years there will be more intensive government measures and enhanced enforcement. He noted that the foreign direct investments can also help indirectly the formalization of the economy, the improvement of the labour practices and the quality of life.

Mr. Zlate Stojanovski, Director of the Labour Inspection of Macedonia presented the experience and challenges of the labour inspection in detecting undeclared workers and the possible policy solutions. He noted that according to various surveys the estimated informal workers are about 80 000-160 000, however no official data is available. The street merchants, workers in agriculture and family businesses most often do not register as employed and do not pay social securities. The manifestations of informal labour vary - in some cases only health securities are paid but not the tax for pensions, and in other cases there are delays of payment resulting in loss of healthcare rights. Mr. Stojanovski noted that often the inspections of the Labour Inspectorate are obstructed, access of the inspectors is denied and workers do not provide the requested information. Despite the penalties introduced, the detection rate remains low since workers do not have any incentives in declaring malpractices. He underlined that the termination of firm operation for one month and the high fines for unregistered workers decreased the informal labour to a certain degree. These measures however proved to be detrimental also for the official workers. For that reason, in September 2010 amendments in the legislation were made to reduce the fines and introduce incentives of formality.

Ms Daniela Mineva, Research Fellow at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the general approach adopted in October 2014 for the establishment of a European platform for tackling undeclared work and noted the high expectations that are placed on its future activities. The Platform is foreseen to join the efforts of the relevant authorities form the EU member states in joint trainings, peer reviews, inspections, exchange of information and best practices for countering all forms of informality.

During the discussion the participants focused on the legislative changes from July 2014. They pointed out the unclear texts regarding the formation of the base for payment of social securities and the possibility for volunteer work or honoraria contracts to be abused for non-compliance. The participants concluded that the inspectors in Macedonia are few and low-paid, which creates huge corruption and integrity risk, and there is need to stimulate the employers to develop their businesses and open new working places.

Ms Mare Anceva, Association of Trade Unions of Macedonia explained the role of trade unions in reporting undeclared work. She noted that in the recent years the problem has greatly decreased, but it has not disappeared. The cases of undeclared work are difficult to detect, because the workers do not feel protected from being fired in case they report a malpractice. She stressed that the informality is a social problem, not just legislative one, and in this respect solely awareness raising campaigns cannot achieve lasting results.

During the second day the participants discussed the cases and challenges related to the media reporting of hidden economy and corruption in Macedonia. Ms Ana Mickovska-Raleva, Policy Analyst at the Center for Research and Policy-Making presented analysis of 115 articles posted at websites of media portals and television stations in the period January 2011 - July 2014, and covering the topic of informal economy. The texts focused mainly on the policy measures or presented data from surveys, and included only six investigative stories. She stressed that the topic is covered very superficially due to the problems that the journalists encounter. These obstacles include difficult communication with the institutions, obstructed access to information, and avoidance of the topic. In conclusion Ms Mickovska-Raleva underlined that both the Macedonian CSOs and media should collaborate for deepening the analysis and media coverage of the informal economy.

Media Coverage

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events-1661Regional Conference: Trends and Challenges in Implementing Anti-corruption Strategieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/regional-conference-trends-and-challenges-in-implementing-anti-corruption-strategies/On 25 November 2014 the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI) and the Centre for Security Cooperation (RACVIAC), in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Macedonia, organized a regional conference in Skopje on the Trends and Challenges in Implementing Anti-corruption Strategies. Representatives of the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity initiative (SELDI) from Bulgaria and Macedonia took part in the event. On 25 November 2014 the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI), a member of the SELDI network, and the Centre for Security Cooperation (RACVIAC), in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Macedonia, organized a regional conference in Skopje on the Trends and Challenges in Implementing Anti-corruption Strategies. Representatives of the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity initiative (SELDI) from Bulgaria and Macedonia took part in the event.

The participants in the conference put emphasis on the importance of monitoring mechanisms for the efficient implementation of the Anti-corruption Strategies in the Southеast European countries. In this context, the participants discussed the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative Work Plan 2014 – 2015. They noted that there is no one-size–fits-all solution when it comes to the design and implementation of anti-corruption strategies. The participants also concluded that the effectiveness of a national anti-corruption strategies depend to a great extent on whether they have been designed taking into consideration the country’s context and main corruption challenges.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the SELDI initiative and Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy underlined that South Eastern Europe as region is constantly under systemic corruption pressure. He presented the main findings of the SELDI Regional Anti-corruption Report and stressed on the fact that CSOs are among the most important stakeholders in countering corruption. However, there is a lack of effectively established formal mechanisms for engaging civil society on the part of the national governments. According to Mr. Stefanov there is a risk of capturing of CSOs by private interests and corruption systems due to the absence of mandatory procedures for transparency in the sector, ineffective control of compliance with financial regulations, lack of auditing culture and low level of self-regulation. Mr. Stefanov concluded by listing the recommendations and conclusions of the conference, highlighting the importance of effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of the national anti-corruption strategies and action plans.

Mr. Borjan Gjuzelov, Expert at the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation and member of the SELDI initiative spoke about his experience in monitoring the implementation of the anti-corruption strategies in the Republic of Macedonia. He explained the specifics of the State Program for Prevention and Repression of Corruption and Prevention and Reduction of Conflict of Interest 2011-2015. He made overview of the Action plan, which includes 220 implementation monitoring indicators and 156 effectiveness monitoring indicators. Mr. Gjuzelov highlighted the importance of the use of online application for collection of data and shares several ideas for future improvement of the measures. The recommendations included the use of output and impact indicators, prioritization of risk areas, independent ‘third party’ monitoring, utilizing the CSOs’ expertise.

Mr. Rosen Kukushev, Ministry of Interior, Bulgaria, gave a presentation about the role of the Center for Prevention and Countering Corruption and Organized Crime, and the main activities and results of the Bulgarian mechanism for countering corruption. Mr. Kukushev explained its matrix organization and role as environment for creating, updating and implementation of intervention systems. In his further elaboration He talked about the preparation of packages of measures such as preliminary analyzes of risk areas, analysis of specific laws and others legislation and proposals for changes of regulations.




SELDI Regional Anti-corruption Report
For full summary of discussion and presentations please visit the website of the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative.

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events-1655SELDI Regional Conference on Good Governance and Anti-corruption Policy Challengeshttps://csd.bg/events/event/seldi-regional-conference-on-good-governance-and-anti-corruption-policy-challenges/On 13 – 14 November 2014 in Tirana, Albania, the Southeast Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) network, in cooperation with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI), the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Ministry of State on Local Issues of Albania, co-organized the Regional Conference on Good Governance and Anti-corruption Policy Challenges.On 13 – 14 November 2014 in Tirana, Albania, the Southeast Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) network, in cooperation with the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative (RAI), the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Ministry of State on Local Issues of Albania, co-organized the Regional Conference on Good Governance and Anti-corruption Policy Challenges. The first day was dedicated to Monitoring Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Southeast Europe: Policy Challenges and the Role of Civil Society. The second day focused on Preventing Corruption by Assessing its Risks.


Day 1: Monitoring Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Southeast Europe: Policy Challenges and the Role of Civil Society

Given the major significance of the corruption issue in the SEE region, the conference contributed to promoting the civil society - state dialogue in identifying effective counter-measures. The countries from the region of Southeast Europe (SEE) discussed the main findings and lessons learnt from analyzing the corruption manifestations and applied national anti-corruption policies. SELDI presented its Regional Anti-corruption Report Anti-Corruption Reloaded: Assessment of Southeast Europe, which by summarizing the conclusions from the national analyses and the data from the sociological surveys carried out in nine countries, provides an assessment of the regional anticorruption developments in SEE.

Day 2: Preventing Corruption by Assessing its Risks

The second day of the forum was targeted at boosting countries’ efforts for corruption risks identification and mitigation in decision making process. The conference recommended for use the developed by RAI and RCC , adopted the as an international standard in this field and recommended corruption risk assessment as a corruption preventive tool.

For detailed summary of discussion, presentations and more, please visit the official webpage of the SELDI Network.



Media Coverage

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events-1659Discussion: The Present and the Future of Russia’s Oil and Gas Policyhttps://csd.bg/events/event/discussion-the-present-and-the-future-of-russias-oil-and-gas-policy/On 30 October 2014 Dr. Mikhail Krutikhin, Senior Partner of the RusEnergy consultancy gave an in-depth presentation of the most recent trends in the management of the Russian hydrocarbon sector. He identified that the oil and gas sector is vital for the financial survival of the Russian economy, as according to national statistical data, the share of the hydrocarbon revenue in the overall Russian budget has increased from 9% in 2000 up to 52% in 2014. On 30 October 2014 Dr. Mikhail Krutikhin, Senior Partner of the RusEnergy consultancy gave an in-depth presentation of the most recent trends in the management of the Russian hydrocarbon sector. He identified that the oil and gas sector is vital for the financial survival of the Russian economy, as according to national statistical data, the share of the hydrocarbon revenue in the overall Russian budget has increased from 9% in 2000 up to 52% in 2014. For the last 14 years since the start of Putin’s regime, the government has disregarded the development of other economic areas making the Russian economy inflexible to fluctuations in energy prices and market volatility.

The discussion was divided in a crude oil and a natural gas section, followed by three scenarios for the development of Russia’s foreign policy and its relations with the West. Some of the conclusions pointed to the permanent existence of state capture practices in Russia’s hydrocarbon sector. The growing influence of few individuals in energy decision-making has led to major inefficiencies that have undermined the country’s future economic development.

Crude Oil

In crude oil, new field discoveries have been very small ranging from 3 to 5 million tons of proven reserves. In addition, the new fields have been located far from the major transport and refinery infrastructure making their development very expensive. Due to the low pace of oil exploration and the declining crude output, the amount of easy oil has been in steep decline. The alternative ultra-light tight oil reserves in the Bazhenov play, which have been boasted by the government as the new horizon of the Russian oil sector, will require massive investment from Rosneft and the import of advanced Western technology, which is currently under international sanctions. Unlike the US, there are no small, local pioneer companies in Russia that are able to develop the drilling methods and technologies needed for the development of the tight reserves, which require hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling methods. In addition, the large companies do not have the incentive to invest in new technologies as close to 80% of their production operations are taxed by the central government.

Meanwhile, foreign oilfield service companies have been banned from working at onshore fields in Russia. Moreover, under Russian law, if foreign oil operators discover a large crude oil field, they are obliged to transfer the ownership of the field to the state, diminishing the incentive for foreign companies to lead exploration activities in harder-to-reach geological formations. According to information by Lukoil, around 15% of Russia’s current output is dependent on foreign technology. Moreover, at the current pace, the country’s oil output has already plateaued and will start declining in 2015. Dr. Krutikhin claimed that unless the tax regime is reformed, by 2020 Russia could lose as much as 15% of its current daily production, which is currently standing at a bit above 10 million barrels.

Natural Gas

According to Mr. Krutikhin, the situation in the natural gas sector is very similar. One observes that the largest gas fields stemming from Soviet times such as Urengoy and Yamburg reveal large depletion patterns as underground pressure is decreasing, and Gazprom has to constantly invest in the construction of new compressor stations. Furthermore, the production and transportation costs for the natural gas from the Eastern Siberian fields have already reached more than USD 100 per 1000 cubic meters. At the same time, shrinking demand in Europe has seen Russian gas exports decline in the past 5 years, while markets in the Far East are flooded with gas supply from producers in the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia.For the Russian LNG at the planned Vladivostok terminal to be competitive, prices in Asia have to remain at least USD 16 per MMBtu. With China working with new gas suppliers from Central Asia and expanding its domestic production capacity, Mr. Krutikhin fails to see how China would become a major customer of Russian gas in the future.

That is why Dr. Krutikhin does not think that the Russia-China export agreement is commercially viable. In his opinion, the 38-bcm gas contract does not yet have a price tag but estimates show that the development of the Eastern Siberian fields and the construction of the pipeline may cost over USD 100 billion. In order to finance the Eastern Gas Program, Gazprom’s annual investment budget until 2018 would have to double equaling between USD 9-10 billion per annum. The Russian giant has already started saving some cash by slowing down its Yamal upstream gas development and decreasing the capacity of the Bovanenko pipeline ensuring the supply of the Nord Stream pipeline.

On the European front, the US shale gas revolution and the Ukrainian crisis have all diminished the attractiveness of Russian natural gas on European markets. Gazprom continues demanding a monopoly role for itself in Europe including on the OPAL and South Stream pipelines, where the European Commission insists on the implementation of the Third Energy Liberalization Package, stipulating that the ownership of production and transportation assets has to be unbundled, and that third-party access to the transmission network should be ensured.

Gazprom would have to accept the Third Energy Package if it wants to complete the South Stream pipeline. On this point, Dr. Krutikhin commented that Gazprom tends not to make concessions during negotiations, and abandons ideas for a win-win resolution of a conflict. In addition, Russia is insisting on long-term contract with oil-indexed prices for Europe. As the share of lower spot prices at European gas hubs has been dramatically increasing in the last five years, many companies importing Russian gas have required Gazprom to adopt price reductions or spot-pricing contracts. The Vienna court of arbitration has already decided that Gazprom should pay USD 1.6 billion to RWE for gas deliveries at non-competitive prices.

Conclusions and possible scenarios

Russia’s oil and gas sector is facing serious difficulties in maintaining the current level of oil and gas output and exports. Many of the future developments in the Russian energy sector are likely to depend on a combination of foreign policy decisions and the current domestic regulatory framework. Among the most important conclusions are that:

  • Russia’s oil and gas production faces challenges and is expected to decrease significantly as the government limits the involvement of foreign companies and technology in the domestic hydrocarbon’s sector.
  • Russia’s economy has weak prospects for growth and could enter into a mild recession next year, which will impede investment in important projects such as the Eastern Gas Program.
  • The fall of the crude oil prices and the capital flight from Russia would negatively affect Russia’s global role and domestic political stability.
  • The South Stream pipeline is a political project that is economically unjustified. Its implementation could potentially cost between USD 37 and USD 47 billion in total with the pipeline infrastructure in Russia as the most expensive part of the project.
  • In order to make South Stream attractive, Gazprom would need to accept the legal requirements of the Third Energy Package, and potentially move to spot-based natural gas pricing.
  • Many of the problems of the Russian energy sector are caused by management inefficiencies and state capture practices. The latter are visible in the decision-making process, often the product of external influences or political considerations.

In his analysis, Dr. Krutikhin pointed that the amalgamation of Russian political and economic troubles could lead to three distinct scenarios:

  • An optimistic one, in which Russia integrates with the West politically and economically; opening for international capital, technologies, democratic principles, liberal market, private business and transparent governance.
  • A pessimistic scenario stipulating that Russia adopts a new Cold War mentality on the verge of a real war. The domestic political and economic system becomes increasingly authoritarian and based on Soviet-style mobilization.
  • A third structuralist scenario predicting an economic integration with China, in which Russia transforms into a Chinese colony that is responsible for supplying cheap energy and mineral resources in exchange for financial capital and technology.

 

No matter, which future road, Russia takes, one thing is certain: economic mismanagement and creeping authoritarianism have never produced growth and prosperity. However, Russia’s economic influence is yet to stay in Central and Eastern Europe, and its ability to take over domestic policy should not be underestimated. Instead, according to Dr. Krutikhin, the region should try to decrease its energy dependence on Russia by diversifying supplies, build regional interconnectors, pressure Russia into renouncing the oil-indexed contracts and last, but not least, create a common energy policy.

 

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events-1651Round table: Europe and Energy Security: The Coming Winter and Beyondhttps://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-europe-and-energy-security-the-coming-winter-and-beyond/On 28 October 2014, the Center for Study of Democracy organized a round table with Dr. Theresa Sabonis-Helf, Professor at the US National War College. She gave presentation on “Europe and Energy Security: The Coming Winter and Beyond”, which was followed by a discussion with the participants.On 28 October 2014, the Center for Study of Democracy organized a round table with Dr. Theresa Sabonis-Helf, Professor at the US National War College. She gave presentation on “Europe and Energy Security: The Coming Winter and Beyond”, which was followed by a discussion with the participants.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the round table by comparing the European and US approach to energy security issues. Dr. Shentov noted that while the US has been able to foster energy independence through unconventional energy resources, Europe has moved very slowly to develop its domestic resource potential. Central and Eastern Europe is a case study, where initiatives for resource diversification have stalled despite the raising energy influence of Russia in the region.

Dr. Sabonis-Helf opened her presentation with some definitions of the concept of energy security. Three main aspects of energy security were stressed: reliability, affordability and environmental friendliness. Dr. Sabonis-Helf argued that it is possible to achieve only two out of three at any given moment in time. The case of Europe is a good case study, as the EU Member States have focused largely on sustainability and poverty issues, while somewhat neglecting Europe’s security of supply. The level of energy security and the structure of your energy mix depend also on where you live. In Asia, coal is the dominant energy sources, while in Europe, natural gas has increasingly become the fuel of choice. The difference in the energy mix puts countries, hence, in different strategic environment.

Dr. Sabonis-Helf also raised the historical perspective as an additional explanatory factor for the current state of energy policy in Europe. She outlined the transformation in the energy dialogue between Russia and Europe from the Soviet Union to this day. Until 2006, Russia has been considered a reliable gas supplier despite changes in the structure of the international system during the 30 years of gas trade. Even today after two gas crises, Russia remains the most important gas supplier to Europe. In fact, one should not forget that energy dependency between Europe and Russia is mutual, with Europe remaining the largest export market for Gazprom. Furthermore, according to the Russian law, Gazprom has to sell 70% of its product internally at subsidized prices and only 30% internationally putting the company in financial trouble. Dr. Sabonis-Helf indicated also that the power balance is shifting in favor of Europe because EU countries simply do not need as much gas as before. Demand is going down in many parts of the EU due to the low economic growth and the transition to alternative energy sources.

During the second part of her presentation, Dr. Sabonis-Helf discussed the current energy security situation in Bulgaria. She noted that Russia has historically pressured Bulgaria not to diversify its energy supply sources through regional interconnectors and domestic gas production. Instead, consecutive governments had pursued the development of the South Stream gas pipeline despite its inconsistency with the EU energy law. The progress of the project, according to Dr. Sabonis-Helf, has been a showcase of state capture practices in the Bulgarian energy sector. Decisions seem to have been largely determined by both domestic private and foreign vested interests. Instead of developing large-scale energy infrastructure projects, Dr. Sabonis-Helf claimed that the Bulgarian government needs to invest in measures improving energy efficiency. She emphasized that Bulgaria does not need more electricity but has to limit the generation and transmission losses. According to her estimates, close to 70% of the produced power is being lost on its way to the final consumer.

Dr. Sabonis-Helf concluded her presentation with an analysis of Russia’s alternative gas export options. She maintained that despite the government’s claims to the contrary, the project is not economically viable and because of its immense investment costs is unlikely to be profitable if gas prices are not significantly higher than today’s levels.

The presentation was followed by a discussion on key issues related to the Russian involvement in the region, and some policy options available to increase the energy security of Bulgaria. Dr. Andrej Nosko, Program Manager at the Open Society Think Tank Fund in Hungary, warned that Russia has been pressuring Central European countries in halting the reverse gas flow to Ukraine and paying for the expansion of the gas storage volumes in Hungary as a preventive measure in case Ukraine stops the transit to the EU. He also gave examples of some domestic aspects of energy security initiatives including the implementation of near-zero energy buildings in Hungary. Dr. Todor Galev, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, added that another soft measure is the fostering power generation decentralization using renewable energy sources. In general, the participants in the discussion united behind the idea that energy security policy should not be driven solely by geopolitical considerations but has to be based on sensible economic decisions.


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events-1649International conference: Energy Security and State Capture Risks in Europe https://csd.bg/events/event/international-conference-energy-security-and-state-capture-risks-in-europe/On 27 October 2014 the Center for Study of Democracy and the Southeast Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) organized an international conference on Energy Security and State Capture Risks in Europe with the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Department and DG Enlargement. The event served as a platform for discussion of the main problems of the common European energy security amidst the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine and state capture as a specific security risk factor for the countries of Southeast Europe.On 27 October 2014 the Center for Study of Democracy and the Southeast Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) organized an international conference on Energy Security and State Capture Risks in Europe with the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Department and DG Enlargement. The event served as a platform for discussion of the main problems of the common European energy security amidst the continuing conflict in eastern Ukraine and state capture as a specific security risk factor for the countries of Southeast Europe.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, by highlighting the importance of emerging security threats. He underlined that energy security remains one of the most acute risks for Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea regions. He pointed out that Russia has used a mixture of corruption and geopolitical pressure to sway governments in the region, including those of some NATO members, to adopt policies that are not consistent with their national energy and security strategy but benefit foreign private and state interests. Dr. Shentov stressed the importance of the Energy Union initiative as a tool for guaranteeing uninterrupted energy resource imports on reasonable prices. At the same time he noted that state capture in many of the countries of Southeast Europe is the key security risk factor, and achieving energy security often is much more a matter of dealing with national governance problems than geopolitical concerns.

Dr. Velizar Shalamanov, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Bulgaria, stressed the importance of energy security for preserving sovereignty. He proceeded to explain that the dependence on foreign countries in any economic sector whether it is energy or defense undermines the countries’ ability to manage the impact of supply disruptions. Russia’s forceful annexation of Crimea in March gave NATO a new impetus to return to its original role – ensuring the collective security of its members. In this respect, he concluded that the long-term resolution of the conflict in Ukraine cannot be limited to a peace agreement in Eastern Ukraine but should include a broader effort to stabilize the Russia-EU energy dialogue without compromising the economic development of Ukraine.

1st panel: The Energy Security and Good Governance Policy Framework in Europe after the NATO Newport Summit

Mr. Michael Ruehle, Head of the Energy Security Section in the Emerging Security Challenges Division, NATO commented that the Ukrainian crisis showed the continuing importance of the Black Sea region in ensuring Europe’s energy security. Mr. Ruehle indicated that even though NATO is a military alliance, it could cooperate with the EU on solving some of the most critical energy security risks for its member-states. One way NATO can facilitate dialogue is by implementing solidarity-building measures in times of energy crises. Mr. Ruehle stressed that NATO members have pledged to increase the alliance’s role and competence in energy security issues, but reminded that it is still the prerogative of member-states to guarantee the security of their critical energy infrastructure including pipelines, oil and gas fields and refineries. He noted that NATO has already devised a Strategic Concept following the Bucharest Summit for prevention of energy security risks and is going to work for enhancing its coordination efforts with the EU. One area of immediate cooperation among NATO‘s member states is on energy efficiency in the military, where energy savings could significantly optimize costs’ operations.

Dr. Frank Umbach, Director of the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, presented his report titled . His presentation highlighted an interesting new trend of decreasing importance of Russian gas for Europe’s consumption profile by 2050. He provided an overview of the latest trends related to global gas markets underlining the growing use of LNG and the shale gas revolution in the US. He warned that Europe’s lack of strategic policy for shale gas exploration will likely weigh on Europe’s future economic competitiveness. Dr. Umbach discussed the controversies and state capture risks related to the South Stream project in the light of how governments and institutions implement policies related to reduction of energy security risks.

Mr. Adam Janczak, Deputy Director of the EU Economic Department in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented . He described in details the 6-pillar structure of the proposal, and highlighted the third pillar, which focuses on strengthening the bargaining power of Member States vis-à-vis the external energy suppliers. According to Mr. Janczak, the goal will be for the European Commission to provide direct support during the negotiations of intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) and ex ante verification of the contracts. Mr. Janczak quoted estimates that the welfare loss for the EU due to gas market inefficiency could reach EUR 30 billion per year, most of which is borne by customers in the CEE region.

Ambassador Ilian Vassilev moderated the first panel. He noted that with the decline of Russia’s ability to exert military pressure, Moscow would try to expand its presence in the banking and energy sector in the region. Russia’s strategy has been somewhat successful because the economic crisis in Europe provided the necessary environment for the growth of bilateral relations between countries in the CEE region and Russia. To overcome the threats to the regional energy security, the EU should promote more practical approaches to common external energy strategy.



2nd panel: Energy Security and State Capture Risks in Europe: Measuring and Governance

Dr. Andrej Nosko, Program Manager at the Open Society Think Tank Fund in Hungary, presented his views. He noted that there are many definitions of energy security, but no agreement on what the concept means. Mr. Nosko outlined the main dilemma policy-makers face when dealing with energy security namely which two of the three conflicting elements of energy security to prioritise – efficiency, affordability, sustainability. Governments can choose to follow only two out of three policy priorities. By making this choice, there will always be losers in the process. In this dilemma Eastern European countries have been unable to prioritize energy security issues partially due to state capture risks, related to non-transparent policy initiatives that do not benefit the public good but the vested interests of third parties.

Mr. Andrea Ricci, Director of the Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems in Italy, pointed out the key . Ricci outlined the two main characteristics of good governance – effectiveness and coherence. In order to reach these goals, three main pillars have to be built, including openness of EU institutions, participation throughout the policy chain, and accountability of legislative and executive processes. Mr. Ricci explained that to him a captured state equals governance failure. He believes that the way forward depends on the systematic development of both participatory decision-making mechanisms and awareness of the socio-economic impacts of energy strategies, as well as on alignment of social costs and indicators to economic and environmental state of the art, backed by an EU-wide energy dialogue.

Mr. Martin Jirusek, Researcher at the Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, discussed the . He made an overview of the energy relations between Russia and the countries in the region. In his view, Gazprom’s export policy is determined by two sometimes mutually exclusive approaches – strategic and market-oriented. The strategic approach is characterized by misusing energy as a political tool, while the market approach responds to the structure of gas supply that each country has. According to Mr. Jirusek, there are clear signs that Gazprom favors the strategic approach in an attempt to increase its geopolitical influence in the region.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, moderated the panel. He pointed out the importance of measuring energy security and how it can affect policy-making initiatives. He underlined the cooperation between the Center and the US Institute for 21st Century Energy for the developing an energy security index for Bulgaria, which deepened the understanding of policy-makers about the main vulnerabilities of the sector in the last 20 years. Additionally, Mr. Stefanov emphasized that energy security measurement should be refined and enhanced on EU level, which will help the development of a coherent European strategy that takes into consideration the complexity of contradictory energy security policies.

3rd panel: Countering Energy Security and State Capture Risks

Ms. Leila Bičakčić, Executive Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, made a critical overview of BiH and the SEE energy sector. She emphasized the rampant corruption in the sector, which has been thriving on ineffective regulatory environment. She pointed to several case-studies of state capture activities in BiH, which involved companies involved in similar corruption prone deals all over South East Europe.

Dr. Simone Tagliapietra, Researcher at Fondazione ENI Enrico Matte in Italy, focused on . According to him, the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) is not a realistic project at the moment as Azerbaijan is the only viable supplier of natural gas for a potential pipeline. He considered Iran and Turkmenistan as unlikely options in the near future due to mainly geopolitical concerns. Mr. Tagliapietra believes that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq could become a potential future supplier. Israel is also a potential supplier after the discovery of the giant Leviathan field in the eastern Mediterranean. However, Turkey has been wary of strengthening energy relations between the two countries due to different foreign policy approaches to the Gaza conflict. Mr. Tagliapietra concluded that the successful implementation of the SGC requires an active cooperation between the EU and Turkey on the development of the Kurdish resources and the liberalization of Turkey’s gas market.

Dr. Arno Behrens, Senior Energy and Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Belgium, presented different approaches to . He outlined the security of energy supplies as a multi-faceted concept exposed to a variety of risks including geopolitical, economic, technical, environmental and social. Dr. Behrens expressed his belief that the current natural gas crisis should be used to foster EU-wide policies of supply diversification, improvements in energy efficiency and the development of coordinated common EU energy policy. Dr. Behrens argued that domestic energy production and shale gas opportunities need to be explored further, and EU Member States should start speaking with one voice. He concluded his presentation by emphasizing the key importance of fostering renewable energy production and energy efficiency, which improve both the reliability and sustainability aspects of the energy security situation in the region.

Dr. András Deak, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of World Economics in Hungary, emphasized measures in the overall energy policy of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This is especially true for countries like Bulgaria where affordability is a key prerequisite for the stability of the whole energy system. In this respect, Dr. Deak noted that the development of renewable energy capacity is an important policy measure but a politically-dangerous one. He added that EU funding will be the single most important source for improving the energy security of the region.

Mr. Barış Sanlı, Deputy Director General for Energy Affairs at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey, said that the short-term energy security of a country is a matter of concrete, practical policies. He noted that energy forecasts do not always match real-life developments. While in 2006 the EU expected that countries will be moving towards a gas-driven economy, the 2009 crisis led to a slump in gas demand, a trend that can continue for a long time. Mr. Sanli argued that some of the most important security of gas supply measures, which need to be implemented, is the building of new gas storages in Turkey and throughout the region, and the establishment of strategic gas reserves that can be tapped into in times of supply crisis. In conclusion, he said that his stance on renewables is that they are improving energy security, but only when sustainable tariffs are in place.

Mr. Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism of Bulgaria (2009-2012), moderated the panel. In his introductory remarks, he discussed the difficulties he experienced during his negotiations with Gazprom in determining the terms of the new long-term gas supply contract. He underlined the importance of transparency of energy deals for the overall energy security of the region and the improvement of the bargaining position of consumer countries.

4th panel: Public-Private Partnerships for Countering Corruption in the Energy Sector in Southeast Europe and the Black Sea Region

Mr. Radu Cotici, Head of Secretariat of Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, Bosnia and Herzegovina, introduced the problem of energy sector corruption in the South Eastern Europe and , which included the formulation of transparent rules in energy sector decision-making and public procurement. Mr. Cotici also spoke about the significance of the engagement of civil society in anti-corruption practices. He underlined the importance of civil society anti-corruption reports as tools for unearthing the potential harm of state capture processes to the public interest. He concluded that the civil society should be given a more prominent role in both the monitoring and evaluation of anti-corruption strategies.

Mr. Tomasz Dąborowski, Senior Fellow in the Central European Department at the Centre for Eastern Studies, Poland presented a case study on the Romanian energy sector. He identified the key features of the Romanian energy sector, which is still dominated by state ownership and a regulated wholesale market for electricity. He further provided a detailed overview on the measures that Romania has adopted in order to improve the financial situation of the state-owned energy companies. To solve the problem with the accumulated debt, authorities have increased the capital of the companies.

Ms. Evgenia Gusilov, Director of the Romania Energy Center, Romania presented her research on with particular focus on the Romanian case. She began her presentation with statistics illustrating the trends in the energy security risks in Romania compared to the average OECD level. According to the data, prior to 2000, energy security risks were higher than in the OECD. However, after 2000 Romania has closed the gap bringing its overall ranking even higher than the OECD average. Ms. Gusilov pointed to statistics on the level of public sector corruption, showing that some progress has been achieved but that the country is facing a lot of transparency issues in public procurement and the efficiency of the institutional framework.

Dr. Athanasios Dagoumas, Special Advisor to the Minister of Energy and Climate Change at the Hellenic Ministry of Energy and Climate Change and a Visiting lecturer in Energy and Resource Economics at the University of Piraeus, Greece presented his research titled . His presentation focused on a case study of fuel smuggling enabled by widespread corruption in the sector. In addition, Dr. Dagoumas presented some of the ways of tackling the country’s energy security risks by doing an overview of the options for diversification of energy routes and resources.

Mr. Munir Podumljak, Executive Director of the Partnership for Social Development, Croatia, presented his research titled . He gave the audience an NGO approach on fighting corruption. One of the issues he raised was the significance of public-private partnerships. According to him, the latter approach is not a viable solution for the energy sector because transparency issues prevent partners from understanding the nature of transactions in the sector. In his opinion, the development of renewable energy resources has bred a lot of corruption in the region, and has disproportionately benefited business at the expense of the citizens. Mr. Podumljak concluded his speech with a call for more open and transparent policies, so that people understand how energy prices are determined, and who benefits most in the sector.

Dr. Theresa Sabonis-Helf, Professor at the US National War College, concluded the panel and the conference by elaborating on some of the key messages expressed during the day. She started by saying that energy companies have the responsibility to fulfill some of mankind’s most basic needs. This responsibility gives the energy sector immense power in policy-making, and, thus, making it prone to abuse. She noted that national and European authorities should not only consider the creation and implementation of rules, but should also follow through with specific actions against recurring violations of the law. In addition, Dr. Sabonis-Helf expressed her belief that policy-makers should include domestic exploration and efficiency gains in their toolbox for increasing energy security, and should not rely on populist rhetoric and short-term problem-solving initiatives.



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events-1665Round table: Waging Battle on The Anticorruption Frontlinehttps://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-waging-battle-on-the-anticorruption-frontline/The Anticorruption Frontline, the second volume of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project policy report was launched on 23 October 2014 at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. The Anticorruption Frontline, the second volume of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project policy report was launched during a round table on 23 October 2014 at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. The report argues that more regulation is not the answer to fighting corruption and despite the increased effort to fight the social phenomenon worldwide, there remains little progress on the ground. Even in countries which have shown improvement, the use of public office for private gain remains an issue. Public opinion surveys tracking concerns about corruption are frequently misunderstood – by those being surveyed as well as those proposing anticorruption policy solutions.

Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy and co-author of the report discussed the developments and events that have shaped the Bulgarian anticorruption ladscape during the past two decades. Despite an improved Bulgarian anticorruption rating according to most accepted measures, the findings on Bulgarian governance show that the avoidance of market competition in areas such as public procurement remains the rule rather than the exception.

For detailed summary of discussion, please visit ANTICORRP’s official webpage.

Selected chapters from the report are available on the ANTICORRP project website, together with more academic publications and deliverables of the project.

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events-1647TeliaSonera Business Day 2014: Exploring the Shadow Economy Around the World https://csd.bg/events/event/teliasonera-business-day-2014-exploring-the-shadow-economy-around-the-world/On 8 October 2014, CSD presented its experience in measuring the hidden economy in Bulgaria at the TeliaSonera Business Day: Exploring the Shadow Economy Around the World. The Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, the TeliaSonera Institute at SSE Riga and Telia Sonera were the hosts of the event.On 8 October 2014, CSD presented its experience in measuring the hidden economy in Bulgaria at the TeliaSonera Business Day: Exploring the Shadow Economy Around the World. The Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, the TeliaSonera Institute at SSE Riga and Telia Sonera were the hosts of the event.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy provided some insights on the hidden economy manifestations in Bulgaria for the period 2002-2011. He introduced the audience to CSD’s Hidden Economy Index, which reflects the dynamics of the hidden economy in Bulgaria since 2002 and covers its different components such as hidden employment, hidden turnover, VAT fraud. Mr. Stefanov underlined the importance of the hidden economy issue, and reminded that the hidden economy can be used as an aggregate indicator of the quality of policies and institutions. He provided recommendations for measures to limit undeclared work and stressed on the fact that the cost of entrepreneurship continues to be too high. In that respect, he prompted the researchers and policy-makers to stop discussing macroeconomic stability and fiscal framework and begin concentrating on the markets, firms and people. In conclusion, Mr. Stefanov noted that the hidden economy might have short term stabilizing function, but in the long-term it can have lasting negative consequences for the institutional legitimacy.



For more information visit the website of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga

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events-1645National Seminar: Assessment of integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups in Bulgariahttps://csd.bg/events/event/national-seminar-assessment-of-integration-measures-for-vulnerable-migrant-groups-in-bulgaria/On September 25, 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a national expert meeting aimed at generating a discussion on the mechanisms for monitoring of the migrant integration in Bulgaria.On September 25, 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a national expert meeting aimed at generating a discussion on the mechanisms for monitoring of the migrant integration in Bulgaria. At the meeting the results of a study on the integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups in the country were presented alongside the experience of other EU member states. A methodology for monitoring of the migrant integration was outlined. The participants at the expert meeting were as follows: Stefka Blazheva, National Contact Point for the European Migration Network at the Ministry of Interior (MoI); Radoslav Miloushev, a representative of the Coordination, Information and Analysis Directorate at the Ministry of Interior; Sonia Ruseva, a senior expert at the Center for Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minorities at the Ministry of Education and Science (MES); Galia Tsokova, from the Center for Information Assurance on Education at MES; Hristo Simeonov, a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP); Sasha Gancheva and Yordan Yordanov, leading experts in the Information and Analysis Department at the Employment Agency within MLSP; Ognyan Hristov, head of the Analysis, Administrative and Information Services Department at the Social Assistance Agency; Magdalena Kostova, head of the Demographic and Social Statistics Department at the National Statistical Institute (NSI); Todor Davidkov, head of Business Statistics Department at NSI; Ivanka Puleva, representative of the Refugee and Migrant Services within the Bulgarian Red Cross; Dr. Mila Mancheva, Svetla Encheva and Iva Alexandrova, from the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD); and Rossitza Gentcheva, a representative of the New Bulgarian University (NBU).

The opening of the seminar was followed by a presentation by Dr. Mila Mancheva who introduced the recent developments in the monitoring system for integration policy towards immigrants in Bulgaria. According to the findings Bulgaria’s mechanisms for migrant integration monitoring are not yet well developed. This is mainly due to low immigration levels and insufficient synchronization between existing administrative and statistical databases required for monitoring of third countries` citizens. Similar tendencies can be observed in other EU member states such as Greece, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

The subsequent discussion clarified some of the main issues related to monitoring of migrants integration, as well as the opportunities to better use the potential of the already existing databases. The comments of Ms. Galia Tsokova, from MES, Ms. Sasha Gancheva, from the Employment Agency, and Ms. Stefka Blazheva, from MoI, contributed significantly to the debate.

During the second part of the seminar, Dr. Mila Mancheva from CSD proposed a sample methodology, which can be utilized for adequate monitoring and evaluation of the immigrant integration in Bulgaria. The ensuing discussion included valuable suggestions for the utilisation of the proposed methodology as well as constructive criticism on its applicability within the Bulgarian context. Ms. Blazheva emphasized the need that statistical indicators be presented through ratio matrices that can be subsequently compared and evaluated as opposed to simply identifying quantitative data. Ms. Galia Tsokova also contributed to the debate, arguing that currently the records on school dropout rates at the MES do not adequately account for the reasons for the absence of students.

In conclusion, Ms. Mila Mancheva stressed on the necessity to initiate a consultation process between the various information-analytical departments of the relevant institutions so as to synchronize the informational categories and indicators on immigrants. Ms. Mancheva pointed out that this is the necessary condition that would enable the creation of a unified national mechanism for the monitoring of the integration of migrants in the country.

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events-1643States and States of Informality in Europe: Current and Future Perspectiveshttps://csd.bg/events/event/states-and-states-of-informality-in-europe-current-and-future-perspectives/On 4 September 2014 in Sofia, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in cooperation with the Sheffield University Management School (UK) and the Institute of Public Finance (Croatia) organised an international Marie Curie conference on tackling the Informal economy and undeclared work in Europe.On 4 September 2014 in Sofia, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in cooperation with the Sheffield University Management School (UK) and the Institute of Public Finance (Croatia) organised an international Marie Curie conference on tackling the Informal economy and undeclared work in Europe. Participants from the three institutions presented the findings from their background research on the state of the gray economy in Bulgaria, Croatia and Macedonia, as well as possible measures for dealing with it.

Professor Colin Williams from Sheffield University delivered the keynote speech and set-out the conceptual framework for tackling undeclared work. He outlined the advantages and the disadvantages of undeclared work for all involved parties - the employee, the employer, the government and the end customer, and what makes the practice attractive. The outlined policy approaches for tackling the issue include increasing the direct control by stepping up deterrent measures, providing more incentives for both employers and employees to declare work, and indirect control, such as fostering a culture of commitment which aligns the values of the citizens with the formal rules and regulations. When discussing the current state of the policy approaches throughout Europe Professor Williams pointed out that deterrence was viewed as the most important measure throughout the continent, with the exception of the Nordic countries. In the latter commitment was seen as the most important, while it ranked last in the rest of the continent. Professor Williams also noted that one of the biggest issues is the lack of common system of measuring the effect of the applied measures, such system is needed in order to understand which policy measures are most effective in the various contexts and what combinations and sequences of measures should be used for reaching the desired results.

Ms. Rositsa Dzhekova, Analyst in the Security Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy and a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, presented a baseline assessment of the current state of the undeclared economy in Bulgaria. Both direct and indirect methods of estimation show the shadow economy represents nearly a third of the country’s total GDP, which is well-above one and a half times the EU average. Based on a number of sources there was a general decline between 2002 and 2007 followed by a slight increase afterwards. The findings suggested that the increase occurred through a shift in the instances of undeclared work, for example from working without a contract to receiving part of the wages in envelopes, which spiked in 2013. Ms Dzhekova pointed out that the current focus of the Bulgarian government on punitive and corrective measures has produced some results in the area of reducing tax evasion and registration of labour contracts, but their sustainability was uncertain due to the lack of efforts to stimulate voluntary compliance and to change the attitudes of the general public. Ms. Dzhekova concluded that one of the main issues was the lack of systematic evaluation of the effect of implemented or planned measures and the lack of an integrated approach to implementing countermeasures.

Mr. Josip Franic, from the Institute of Public Finance (Croatia) and a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, provided a baseline assessment for the gray economy in his home country. With a size of the shadow economy of nearly 28.4% of the total GDP, Croatia is second in the EU only to Bulgaria and faces a big challenge especially due to the high unemployment rate of over 17% and the social acceptability of the phenomenon. Mr. Franic outlined the latter as an especially worrisome since it is seen as a sign of a low tax morale, which meant that the citizens have low trust in their government. This was confirmed by the broadly accepted belief that high social security contributions are not proportionate to the potential future benefits. In a similar fashion to the Bulgarian case deterrence was the main method for tackling the issue employed by the Croatian authorities, followed by preventative measures. Some examples for the latter include online services, and a “name and shame list” for employers who have not paid social contributions for more than 3 months. A voucher scheme for seasonal occasional work in agriculture was introduced as a means of moving services in the formal economy.

Mr. Lyubo Mishkov, a PhD student in the University of Sheffield - School of Management and a Marie Curie Research Fellow at CSD, in cooperation with Mr. Franic and Ms. Dzhekova presented the baseline assessment for the state of the undeclared economy in FYR Macedonia. One of the biggest issues the country faces is its high unemployment rate, which has just recently fallen to 28.4%. Some of the main underlying reasons for it are the widespread corruption and uncertain business environment. Using the same estimate as for the other two countries the team cites a size of the shadow economy of nearly 47% for 2011, markedly higher than both previous instances. Especially worrying are the findings of a survey from the same year, which show that nearly half of the interviewees will accept an undeclared job and will keep silent, which is viewed as a symptom of a widespread public acceptance. Regarding the measures for dealing with the issue the focus is mainly on detection and control, with some efforts on prevention just starting to emerge in the recent years - such as a ‘One-stop-shop’ system for company registration, electronic submission of tax returns. The team ended their presentation with the conclusion that culture changing measures and measures for enabling formalisation of the undeclared firms and workers and particularly scarce.

The second panel of the conference presented the lessons that the three countries can learn from some of the older EU members. The first speaker was Dr Piet Rennoy from the Regiopan Institute (Netherlands). As the third smallest undeclared economy in the EU at 9.5%, the Netherlands faces different types of problems, which were generally magnified after the accession of new countries to the EU. Some of them include dodging minimum wages regulations by imposing fines or requiring longer working hours and bogus contracts which then lead to abuses in the workplace or other abuses related to not understanding the work regulations and the rights that workers have. In his presentation Dr Rennoy outlined that in order to prevent such types of crimes the government of the Netherlands is mostly relying on preventive measures such as stepping up inspections or awareness raising campaigns. He noted that one of the shortcomings of the latter was that they were aimed only at people who understood Dutch and a good part of those who were being abused were foreign nationals who didn’t understand the language.

Dr. Sigrid Rand, a Senior Researcher from Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. Dr. Rand outlined the main types of workers who were at the highest risk of undeclared work - those employed in small businesses, self-employed and workers who were posted from other countries and who paid their social security contribution in their sending and not in the host country. Around 20% to 25% or all undeclared work happened in the household services and was done mainly by German women or foreign citizens. Some of the measures which have currently been undertaken are an enactment of minimum wage restrictions and government payments for those who had been out of a job for a certain period, the goal of the latter was to minimize their incentive to engage in undeclared work.

The third speaker in the panel was Ms. Natasa Vidmar from the Ministry of Labour in Slovenia. As a newer member of the block it faces problems that aren’t much different from those faced in the three countries from the Balkans. As in their cases it relies mainly on deterrent measures such as strict penalties and constant inspections. Some of the interesting examples of such measures given by Ms. Vidmar included that according to the most recent legislation undeclared work can not be advertised in any way, even on online boards. In the sphere of preventive measures the legislation allows for short term contracts where only the health care tax is paid for someone working less than 40 hours a week. Some of the main examples of undeclared work that were cited included companies changing ownership and thus sidestepping their social contribution payments and employing illegal immigrants, while keeping their documents for the duration of their work.

The third panel of the conference included representatives from the academia and from the government and was on the topic of ways of measuring and tackling the undeclared economy in Bulgaria. The first speaker was professor Tanya Chavdarova from the Department of Sociology at the Sofia University. Professor Chavdarova presented some of the issues of the so called “envelope wages”. Firstly at the core of the problem there is a dual agreement between the employee and the employer that may involve such things as paying only part of the salary in an official manner, working longer hours or not using the full extent of the vacation days. According to the measurements that have been presented, this practice has been on the rise since 2003 and it is already so embedded in the culture that it is seen as a normal procedure and has been socially legitimized as something that has to be done due to the lack of choice in Bulgaria. Her findings also suggested that the practice is prevalent in the smaller cities compared to the capital. Some of the recommendations for tackling the problem include better understanding of the regional aspects, stepping up efforts for civic education in the secondary schools, and conducting in-depth study of the interdependence between Minimum Social Insurance Thresholds and the National Minimum Wage.

The second speaker in the panel Mr. Milen Kolev, from the National Statistical Institute, outlined the methods which were being used in order to measure the undeclared economy by the national statisticians, which are in line with those used in the EU. They include both quantitative analysis of macro data, surveys with experts, household surveys, fiscal accounts, etc. and such information is regularly provided by the institute in the gross value added and GDP estimates. According to NSI in 2013 the undeclared economy was about 13% of GDP.

Dr. Stefan Petranov, the Head of the Economics Department at the University of Sofia, presented the changes which took place in the legislation in relation to the shadow economy in the past 10 years and what their effect was. The general trend was positive towards reducing the share of the gray economy and transforming parts of it to the formal sector. Dr. Petranov gave examples for that in the increasing relative share of people with social security benefits in the labour force. The proposed driving force behind the trend was a combination of an improvement of the labor inspections, accumulation of experience, and the lowering of the tax rates that took place during the period.

Mr. Nikolay Petkov, the Director of the Risk Management Department at the National Revenue Agency (NRA), gave examples of the model which the Agency uses in tackling the undeclared economy. He gave two examples of areas where changes were implement and results were seen. The first one was with the fuel market, where after implementing a link between the sellers and the NRA and stepping up the controls there has been a reduction of the risky traders with nearly 48%. The second example concerned the “envelope wages” were similar measures were taken, but the results were not satisfactory.

Ms. Elka Dimitrova, the Director of the Labour Policy Directorate and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, presented the findings from a recent survey conducted by the Ministry. The main conclusion was that employers know how to take advantage of the system, but the employees do not due to the lack of information or perceived self-interest from their side. Some of the more interesting findings included that around a third of all companies currently do and will continue insuring their employees on the minimum wage thresholds even they change. Also that from the employees point of view working without a contract was seen as having less restrictions and being able to switch jobs easily or continuing claiming unemployment benefits while receiving some income.

The last session of the international conference included a lively roundtable discussion on the ways of dealing with the undeclared economy in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Croatia. It involved a presentation from Ms. Dzhekova, Mr. Mishkov and Mr. Franic of an Assessment of the Transferability of Policy Measures towards Undeclared Work. It set out a methodological approach on how to evaluate the transferability of policies between countries and presented case studies for Bulgaria and Croatia. The cases included both assessment of the legislative measures for deterrence and prevention, but also the fit between social, economic, political and ideological contexts. Some of the recommendations for Bulgaria included implementation of a legal definition for undeclared work, which is currently missing and a coordinated approach at strategic and operational level, which would probably involve a national strategy of counteracting the issue. Some of the specific measures that provoked discussions included sending Notification letters from Tax and Customs Board (an example from Estonia) to companies for discrepancies in their stated labour expenses and the national average. That type of measurement has achieved a 40% success rate in the country, but in order for it to function it required a trust in the government and its redistributive justice.

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events-1641Policy Forum &quot;Energy (In)Security in Bulgaria: National Policy and European Perspectives&quot;https://csd.bg/events/event/policy-forum-energy-insecurity-in-bulgaria-national-policy-and-european-perspectives/On July 25, 2014, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organized in Sofia a policy forum on Bulgaria’s national and European perspectives on energy security.On July 25, 2014, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organized in Sofia a policy forum on Bulgaria’s energy security. Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the forum by identifying the capture of the state’s energy policy by local private, as well as, foreign state interests as the major risk for the Bulgarian energy security.

Mr. Martin Tsanov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, started the presentation of CSD’s latest report Energy Sector Governance and Energy (in) Security in Bulgaria by summarizing Bulgaria’s results in the International Index of Energy Security Risk (IIESR) developed by the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to the data, Bulgaria is facing the highest level of energy insecurity among all the 75 countries under review. Only Ukraine, Serbia and Uzbekistan face similar, but still lower, energy security risks. Romania, Bulgaria’s neighbor and fellow EU-member demonstrates much lower energy security risks. Bulgaria’s results suggest that despite the long-term trend towards decreasing energy security risk, from the 1980s onwards, three major risks remain: low energy efficiency, high and volatile expenditures on fossil fuel imports, and high dependence on oil and gas imports.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, continued the presentation of the latest CSD report by focusing on the problems of bad governance of large infrastructure projects and of state-owned companies in the Bulgarian energy sector. He noted that after the start of the latest crisis in Ukraine, energy security has finally become a true priority for Europe’s economic policy, on par with competitiveness and sustainability. Bulgaria has not yet followed suit though. Mr. Stefanov provided specific examples for the lack of transparency in the governance of large energy projects such as South Stream, NPP Belene and the construction of a seventh unit in NPP Kozloduy. The key recommendations for improving the energy security of Bulgaria included in CSD’s report are: achieving political consensus on the long-term priorities of the national energy policy; more active participation in the European Energy Union initiative; introducing an annual review of Bulgaria’s energy security position; improving the independence of the energy regulator and better implementation of relevant EU regulations; introducing compulsory corporate governance standards for state-owned enterprises; developing indigenous energy resources and diversifying gas supply routes and sources; improving overall energy efficiency; and introducing mandatory ex ante cost-benefit analysis of large infrastructure projects in the energy sector.

Mr. Delyan Dobrev, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism (2012 - 2013), pointed out one additional energy security risk, apart from those already mentioned is the tendency for Bulgarian governments to pursue populist policies. He noted that one of the main risks for the energy security of Bulgaria is indeed energy poverty, as CSD’s report states. According to Mr. Dobrev, addressing this risk should not come at the expense of the financial health of the state-owned energy companies. The five-percent price reduction of electricity prices for end-users, introduced in 2013, failed to achieve the necessary social impact, but at the same time generated problems for the sustainability of public finances. Therefore, he suggested that what needs to be done is the gradual liberalisation of electricity prices, together with the simultaneous increase of the subsidies from the state budget for local energy poverty assistance - from BGN 100 million to BGN 300 million. This would allow the increase of the scope of the supported households from the current 250,000 to 500,000 in the future.

Mr. Dobrev also addressed the country's energy dependence on imports of gas as another major risk identified in CSD’s report. He suggested that the best way to reduce Bulgaria’s energy dependence is to promote the extraction of local energy resources. In this respect, he underscored that the exploration gas wells in the Black Sea, especially in the "Khan Asparuh" block, are particularly important. In terms of overcoming the low energy efficiency of the economy, Mr. Dobrev advised that the government‘s efforts towards the utilization of EU funds under Operational Programmes "Regional Development" and "Competitiveness" for this purpose should continue.

Mr. Georgi Kadiev, Member of the National Assembly (2013 - 2014) and Deputy Minister of Finance (2005 - 2007), noted that the poor governance of state-owned energy companies is due to corruption and political dependencies, which ultimately hamper their financial health. Mr. Kadiev emphasized that the biggest problem for the Bulgarian energy sector is the lack of transparency in the management of large energy infrastructure projects, such as the case for the construction of a seventh unit at NPP Kozloduy. Mr. Kadiev noted that the scale of such projects is so big that it would be very difficult to ensure the independence of the country's energy regulator, no matter which party is in power if corruption is involved.

Energy poverty is another critical issue for Bulgaria - about 900,000 pensioners live off the minimum pension, and could hardly afford even a small increase in electricity prices. The policy for energy assistance should be based on helping the most vulnerable social groups, rather than on price reductions for households at large.

Mr. Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism (2009 - 2012), stated that the findings, presented in CSD’s report demonstrated how the government, which he was part of, was right to maintain cautious but firm positions in its negotiations with Russia when discussing the implementation of energy projects and the overall management of the Bulgarian energy sector. In his speech, Mr. Traikov highlighted as a major problem for the country's energy security, the extremely low energy efficiency of Bulgarian households, leading to the paradox that a Bulgarian household uses three times more electricity per square meter of living area compared to a German household. This explains why the problems within the Bulgarian energy sector are not related to the building of another power plant or generation capacity but to the efficient distribution and usage of the energy which is currently produced.


Mr. Ivailo Kalfin, Minister of Foreign Affairs (2005-2009) and Member of the European Parliament (2009-2014), stated that Bulgaria could not rely solely on the EU to solve its problems. In addition, he noted that some European initiatives actually prevent the effective governance of the energy sector in Bulgaria. Apt examples are the EU mandatory requirements for the share of renewable energy sources in the energy mix of the country or the issuance of CO2 certificates. Mr. Kalfin underlined that in his opinion the risks stemming from the exploration and the production of unconventional gas are unjustified, regardless of the potential benefits for the Bulgarian economy. Regarding the problem with the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy, he noted that the power tariffs in Bulgaria are lower for the household users and higher for the businesses as opposed to the price structure in most of the EU.


Mr. Konstantin Penchev, Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, discussed the topic of bad governance of the energy sector. He pointed to the widespread incompetence and corruption at all levels in the public administration. Mr. Penchev said that the low level of energy efficiency should be viewed from the perspective of citizen rights. He added that the Bulgarian energy policy is outdated and inefficient because of the bad governance of the sector, and the lack of transparency and accountability. He concluded that an increase in the power tariffs would not lead to an adequate solution to the financial problems of the state owned energy companies because the additional company revenues are likely to be used inefficiently.

Professor Ivan Ivanov from New Bulgarian University and ex-MP, emphasized that the CSD report is produced at a crucial moment for the Bulgarian energy sector, and is necessary to assist the improvement of the Bulgarian energy sector governance. Professor Ivanov claimed that the management of state-owned energy enterprises lies at the crossing-point between corporate and public interests leading to their financial troubles. He then pointed out that Bulgaria can increase its energy security by focusing on exploration and production of natural gas in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, he mentioned that the Bulgarian governments are still lagging behind in the implementation of EU regulations on providing secure supply of energy to their citizens.

Mr. Plamen Dimitrov, President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria, urged the Parliament to adopt any decisions related to new energy infrastructure projects with consensus, or at the very least with a qualified majority. He regarded the Report’s recommendation of introducting corporate governance standards in state-owned energy companies in accordance with the guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as essential to the management reform of the state energy companies.

Mr. Georgi Krustev, Secretary of the National Security Council at the Council of Ministers (2012-2013), highlighted that the energy security risks are included as an important topic in the National Security Strategy, adopted with consensus in the National Assembly. Representatives of the civil society, including members of the Center for the Study of Democracy, played a very active role in its drafting. Mr. Krustev added that alternative analyses of national security issues supplied by NGOs are much needed to enhance the presence of energy security risks when identifying the main threats to Bulgarian security.

Mr. Rumen Petkov, Minister of Interior (2005-2008), observed that the problems in the Bulgarian energy sector should not always be sought in the country’s dependence on Russian state interests. According to him, the main priority should be the analysis and elimination of the backstage influence in the decision-making of the Bulgarian energy sector, well documented in CSD’s report. As an additional example of this influence, Mr. Petkov indicated the appointment of a person with criminal record on the Board of Directors of a state energy company despite the Attorney General’s knowledge and probably with the active assistance of the investigation services. It is also unacceptable, according to Mr. Petkov, to delay the process of extending the life of the fifth and sixth reactor of NPP "Kozloduy" as it poses not only an energy security risk, but also a risk for the country’s social security.












Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1639Public discussion &quot;Management and disposal of seized and confiscated criminal assets in EU countries&quot;https://csd.bg/events/event/public-discussion-management-and-disposal-of-seized-and-confiscated-criminal-assets-in-eu-countries/On 11 July 2014, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a public discussion on &quot;Management and disposal of seized and confiscated criminal assets in EU countries&quot;. The aim of the discussion was to review the current state of play, significance and recent developments in this field.On 11 July 2014, the Center for the Study of Democracy held a public discussion on "Management and disposal of seized and confiscated criminal assets in EU countries". The aim of the discussion was to review the current state of play, significance and recent developments in this field.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Board of the Center for the Study of Democracy emphasized that the idea of the event is to gather representatives of the main institutions involved in the process of administration and utilization of confiscated property.

Mr. Trifon Trifonov, head of the "Methodology" department in the Commission for forfeiture of criminal assets, presented the experience of the institution in the management of frozen property. He elaborated on the legal framework on freezing and forfeiture of criminal assets in Bulgaria and the powers of the Commission in this regard. Mr. Trifonov paid special attention to the Law on Forfeiture in Favour of the State of Illegally Acquired Assets, which provides for a special register indended to inform all other competent institutions on the restrain measures imposed by the Commission.

Ms. Vania Nestorova, prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation, presented the role of the Office in the process of freezing and forfeiture of criminal assets for the benefit of the state. In the legal context of Criminal Procedure Code, Ms. Nestorova made an important comparison between „seizure” and “forfeiture of property” for the benefit of the state. She also contemplated on the role of the Interinstitutional Council for Management of Confiscated Property, which has been recently established under the Law on Forfeiture in Favour of the State of Illegally Acquired Assets and was intended to optimize the process of managing confiscated assets.

Dr. Atanas Rusev, Research Fellow at the “Security" Program, presented the results of a study on the practices in managing of seized and confiscated property in the 28 EU Member States. The study had been conducted by the Center for the Study of Democracy in partnership with the University of Palermo. Dr. Rusev reviewed the main problem areas in the process of management and disposal of confiscated assets and discussed the best practices to address them. Based on the results of the study, Dr. Rusev suggested recommendations for optimisations in the process of administration and utilisation of confiscated property in Bulgaria.

Ms. Alessia Ceresa, representative of the University of Palermo, examined the two main approaches in the reuse of confiscated property for social purposes - the direct re-use of confiscated assets, and the use of the proceeds from the sale of confiscated property for public and social objectives. Ms. Ceresa presented the best practices in several European countries - Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and the UK.


Ms. Daniela Todorova, Head of "Governmental claims" at the Sofia Territorial Department of the National Revenue Agency, commented on the experience and practices of the Agency in regards to the disposal of confiscated property. After presenting the general legal framework and powers of the NRA, she focused on the existing specific procedures for utilisation of confiscated criminal property. In conslucion, Ms. Daniela Todorova highlighted the various practical problems that arise with the disposal of the confiscated assets in Bulgaria.

During the ensuing discussion, Ms. Alessia Ceresa elaborated on the Italian experience in the administration and utilisation of confiscated assets abroad and the possibilities to transfer this experience to Bulgaria.

Presentation of Mr. Atanas Rusev "Management and disposal of confiscated assets in the European Union"

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events-1637Discussion on labour migration issues with representatives of the Labour and Social Affairs Committee of the German Bundestaghttps://csd.bg/events/event/discussion-on-labour-migration-issues-with-representatives-of-the-labour-and-social-affairs-committe/On 19 June 2014 experts at the Center for the Study of Democracy held a meeting with a delegation of the Labour and Social Affairs Committee at the German Bundestag. The discussion focused on the causes and effects of labour migration from Bulgaria to Germany with a view to future political actions of the German Parliament.On 19 June 2014 experts at the Center for the Study of Democracy held a meeting with a delegation of the Labour and Social Affairs Committee at the German Bundestag. The discussion focused on the causes and effects of labour migration from Bulgaria to Germany with a view to future political actions of the German Parliament.

Ms. Katja Mast, Head of the delegation, clarified that they are interested in the problems with migration of the Roma population and in particular, Bulgarian government's strategy for their integration. The protection of labour and social rights of Bulgarian citizens working in EU countries was another issue of interest emphasized by the delegation. Ms. Mast expressed concerns that the growing labour migration among the highly qualified specialists can, in the longer term, have negative impact on the economic and social development of Bulgaria.

Ms. Mila Mancheva, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program, gave a brief overview of the emigration processes in Bulgaria in the past 24 years. The statistical studies show that the percentage of working-age Bulgarians who left the country before 2007 is almost twice as high as the number of those who left after the accession of Bulgaria to the EU.

Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Analyst at the Security Program added that two larger emigration waves could be distinguished during the period of transition - one in the early 90s and one in 2001-2003, when the Schengen visa restrictions were removed. Until the beginning of the crisis the main destination countries for migrants were Spain and Greece, but after 2008 Bulgarian citizens prefer the countries in Northern Europe. The Bulgarian citizens of Roma ethnicity find employment mainly in grey economy sectors.

With regard to the reasons for the emigration of highly skilled people, Mrs. Mancheva explained, that Bulgarians find more career opportunities and better remuneration in Western countries. Mr. Bezlov added that there are not yet official statistics on the number of highly qualified Bulgarian emigrants, but a fair assumption could be made on the basis of the significant number of Bulgarian students in Western universities.

Ms. Brigitte Pothmer, Member of the delegation, was interested how the outflow of highly educated Bulgarians has affected the democratic processes in the country and the development of civil society. According to Ms. Mancheva, as a result of increased immigration processes since 1989, most of the active civil society was not in the country to exert more pressure and control over the institutions of the executive and legislative power. In this sense, it is fair to assume that the open borders and the opportunities outside the country were one of the factors that affected the democratic transition of the country. Ms. Iva Alexandrova, Senior Analyst at the Sociological Program, noted that one should not overlook the fact that migration is not a one-way and irrevocable process and that many Bulgarians have returned. In addition, with the experience and skills these people have gained abroad, they bring a new dynamic to the development of Bulgarian society.

Ms. Daniela Kolbe, Member of the delegation, brought back the topic of Roma migration with emphasis on what measures are taken at national level and what strategy is implemented for the integration of this minority. Mr. Philip Gounev, Security Program Director, explained that strategies are present, but they often lack specifically drawn up actions for achievement of these integration goals. In the majority of cases, only sporadic actions are taken at local level.

Ms. Alexandrova clarified that the main issue is the poor socio-economic situation in the country, which affects mainly the marginalized groups of the society and hinders their integration. When there are running local industries and job opportunities for low-qualified personnel, the integration measures can be successful. As a part of project aimed at involving the Roma community in the study and prevention of new forms of child trafficking, we were able to see that in fact, there are many examples of successful cooperation with the community when its representatives are adequately involved in the implementation of such projects.

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events-1633SELDI Policy Advocacy Workshop: Improving Governance in Southeast Europe: a Civil Society Update and New Public-Private Partnership Solutions https://csd.bg/events/event/seldi-policy-advocacy-workshop-improving-governance-in-southeast-europe-a-civil-society-update-and/On 20 June 2014 the SELDI network held an Policy Advocacy Workshop: Improving Governance in Southeast Europe: a Civil Society Update and New Public-Private Partnership Solutions in Istanbul, Turkey. During the workshop, the SELDI partners presented and discussed the preliminary findings of the regional Corruption Monitoring System and the national Corruption Assessment Reports carried out in nine countries in 2014.On 20 June 2014 the SELDI network held an Policy Advocacy Workshop: Improving Governance in Southeast Europe: a Civil Society Update and New Public-Private Partnership Solutions in Istanbul, Turkey. During the workshop, the SELDI partners presented and discussed the preliminary findings of the regional Corruption Monitoring System and the national Corruption Assessment Reports carried out in nine countries in 2014. The discussion focused on the most pressing governance challenges in the region and on finding innovative public-private partnership solutions. Attendees witnessed first hand the results of the unique regional Corruption Monitoring System, which provides an overview of anti-corruption progress in Southeast Europe in the period 2001 – 2014.

During the opening session, Ms. Ayse Ustunel Yircali, Executive Director of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) welcomed the participants and presented the SELDI network aims and objectives in the anti-corruption area. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov from the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria, and Coordinator of the SELDI network expressed his hope that the national Corruption Assessment Reports will become key reference documents of anti-corruption in the region.

Mr. Bülent Tarhan, Chief Inspector at the Prime Minister’s Inspection Office, Turkey delivered a key note presentation on Turkey and highlighted six key corruption-related challenges:

  • Any deviation from democracy rules increases corruption.
  • Countries that have governance problems also have corruption problems.
  • Equality of treatment should always be combined with justice.
  • In Turkey and other countries all immunity provisions should be abolished in relation to corruption related crimes.
  • Countering corruption requires not only political will (which is spontaneous), but also political determination (persistence, stability and credible commitment).
  • The state should have good institutional set up to counter corruption crime. The question still stands if there should be one or many units tackling the problem. Mr. Tarhan pointed out that his personal preference is towards the coordination of a single body over all institutions ensuring their integrity. He also underlined that the countries should invest not only in institutions, but also in the people, in order to educate them and build social values.



Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Research at the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria and SELDI Secretariat presented the SELDI Corruption Monitoring System methodology. He stressed that corruption is a wide phenomenon that translates in many complex types of behaviours at different levels - administrative, political, etc. Mr. Stoyanov pointed out that the survey-based Corruption Monitoring System is one of the few instruments to objectively measure corruption, and produce data that is very different from the administrative and court statistics. In the SELDI Corruption Monitoring System the network is aiming to asess the preconditions, the actual experience, and the perceptions of corruption, as well as the government’s effectiveness in countering corruption. He presented a comparison of the corruption pressure results from the Corruption Monitoring System in the nine SELDI countries. The rest of the results will be presented during a SELI policy conference in Albania in October 2014. According the results, Croatia and Turkey have the lowest score of the indicator, and Albania and Bulgaria have the highest corruption pressure index and share population that admitted for being asked for a bribe.

Mr. Radu Cotici, Head of the Secretariat, Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) presented the strategic anti-corruption directions of RAI for the period 2014-2015 in implementing the SEE 2020 Strategy. These target areas include transparent rules (corruption risk assessments), competitive procedures, revision and control, public awareness, regional cooperation. RAI has also set several additional targets related to asset disclosure and revealing any conflicts of interests. Mr. Cotici suggested that SELDI undertakes the preparation of regular ranking of countries based on qualitative indicators, for example on the level and effectiveness of SEE strategy implementation.

Ms Sanja Bojanic, Governance Team Leader, UNDP Montenegro spoke about the importance of the citizens’ participation in contributing to the princliple of good governsnce. She undelined that in the digital area, social tools create many opportunities for citizens` oversight. The NESTA social innovation tool, KOLBA Lab, KALLXO.com and BUDI ODGOVORN are just a few examples of initiatives by the citizens, trying to combine traditional with new digital tools in tackling corruption and the lack of transparency.

Ms Ezgi Ozdemir, Expert, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) presented the main corruption challenges in Turkey. According to the SELDI Corruption Monitoring System data 44% of the respondents in 2014 considered corruption the second most important problem for Turkey after unempolyment. Ms Ozdemir noted that while the Turkish Strategy and Action Plan for Preventing Corruption was adopted in 2009, there is still no information if the annual action plans have been implemented. TESEV recommended the adoption of a specific law on conflict of interest and a law on lobbying, and suggested amendment of the current law on asset declaration, as well as strengthened whistle blower protection to improve governance and reduce corruption risks. Ms Ezgi Ozdemir also underlined that the immunity rule for MPs should not obstruct investigation and prosecution to corruption crimes in Turkey. She highlighted the need of a Code of Ethics for the judiciary and also stated that Turkey will benefit from an independent body permanently tasked with anti-corruption policy development.

Mr. Alain Servantie, SELDI International Board Member shared some views on the latest developments in the anti-corruption policies and judiciary practices around Europe and in Turkey. He mentioned the Euro-scepticism observed in the run up and in the results from the 2014 European Parliamentary Elections, which puts more pressure on the national governments in countering corruption, and applying measures such as disclosure of assets. For example, in Europe the controlling of the use of funds for political party campaigns is receiving increased attention.

Ms. Jonida Narazani, Research Director, Albanian Center for Economic Research (ACER) kicked off the first session of the policy workshop and provided an introduction to the corruption assessment results in Albania. She underlined that by the end of June 2014 Albania is expected to be granted EU accession status which puts more pressure on countering corruption. In SELDI’s CMS Albanians ranked corruption as the most challenging problem in the country. The courts and the judiciary in particular are perceived as corrupt. Ms. Jonida Narazani underlined that it is of paramount importance that corruption cases be translated into convictions, and that there is room for more intensive collaboration and consultations with CSOs.

Ms. Leila Bičakčić, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN), Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the preliminary SELDI CMS results for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Susceptibility to corruption has been lowering, and people have become more aware of the corruption issue according to the SELDI CMS. However the country is still considered a captured state. According to Ms. Bičakčić, 70% of the planned anti-corruption measures have not been completed and 20% have never started. There are numerous laws that are being amended at the moment, however not always in a way that would increase transparency and decrease corruption.

Mr. Munir Podumljak, Executive Director of the Partnership for Social Development (PSD), Croatia noted that the data from the CMS showed that in 2001-2014 corruption decreased, and it could be concluded that applied policies had been effective in cases such as bribes. However, he warned it should not be forgotten that there are many other challenges that Croatia is facing such as political integrity, intransparent budget formulation, etc. In that context, according to Mr. Podumljak, Croatia currently has the same corruption levels as ten years ago. Hence, policies should address a wider range of problems that affect citizens’ lives. In conclusion he described the CSO capture phenomenon, where governments use 'friendly' CSOs as ‘white-washing machines', to present them in a better light to the public.

Mr. Premton Hyseni, Advanced Researcher, INSTITUTI RIINVEST, Kosovo pointed out the unique post conflict environment and foreign presence situation in Kosovo, whcih shapes the specific challenge of corruption in the country. He underscored that the CMS index on the spread of corruption in Kosovo is alarmingly high. The government has made substantial progress on red tape removal, and setting key anti-corruption institutions in place. Still, the developments are mainly formal, and the challange of policy implementation and enforcement of laws remains. According an INSTITUTI RIINVEST survey from 2013 a third of the sales are not reported for tax purposes, which is closely related to corruption and the existence of hidden economy.

Ms Valentina-Andreea Dimulescu, Project Coordinator, ANTICORRP and Researcher, European Policies and EU Funds, Romanian Academic Society (SAR) closed the panel by presenting results of a recent SAR study on corruption in the management of EU funds. Worldwide Governance indicators show that Romania has one of the lowest governance scores and is considered as corrupt. According to Ms Dimulescu the main challenge remains the persistence of high level corruption. She showed that financial fraud and other mismanagement is easy to detect, but difficult to prove. SAR also used a list of criteria to create a 'black list' of election candidates, and sent it to the relevant authorities and the media. As a result of SARs’ efforts, 98 black listed persons were withdrawn, but 104 black listed candidates still entered the parliament. This approach was recognized as good practice and adopted by other countries, with different levels of success.

Ms Emina Nuredoniska, Head of the Department for Civil Society and Democracy, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) opened the second session by noting that in the Republic of Macedonia corruption was ranked as only the fifth most prominent problem, due to the low awareness on the issue. Customs and the judiciary, followed by the police are considered as the most corrupt professional groups. There is a need of better whistleblower protection and currently there are legislative changes being prepared in that direction. There is also insufficient transparency of the preparation and implementation of the budget. There are also only few CSOs that work on the issue of anti-corruption. Ms Emina Nuredoniska expressed her hope that EU funds will increase the civil society activities in the area.

Ms Milica Kovacevic, Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Montenegro noted that the country has had the same government for the last 23 years and this has determined most of the key developments in anti-corruption and/or lack thereof. According to the 2014 SELDI CMS, 79% of the respondents consider that the government is very or mainly unsuccessful in fighting corruption, and over half of the population believes that almost all or all officials are involved in corruption. Legislation is amended frequently, there are about 40 by-laws that in some way relate to anti-corruption, and there are several anti-corruption bodies, however the high expectations from their existence are still not met in practice. According to Ms Kovacevic, there are no high level investigations of corruption, despite the increase of the investigations number. Ms Kovacevic also highlighted the malpractice of using state aid for support of enterprises, that only increases public debt.

Mr. Marko Paunović, Executive Director, Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies, Serbia noted that there is some improvement in the victimization of corruption in the country, but little advance is achieved in countering the issue as a whole. Corruption pressure has decreased, however this could be explained by the lower number of people having contacts with the administration. According to him, judiciary is not politically independent and its competence should be increased. Mr. Paunović also mentioned some cases of political use of media, as well as social media censorship. Still, it should be noted that in Serbia there is specialized court, police and prosecutions for grand corruption and for organized crime. In terms of law enforcement, four former ministers were arrested over suspicion of abuse of office and corruption.

Ms Steluta Pavlov, Project Coordinator, Centre for Analysis and Prevention of Corruption (CAPC), Moldova presented her organisation’s experience in monitoring and corruption-proofing of draft legislation and demonstrated their electronic database. As instruments for the proofing CAPC uses legislation experts, theoretical and practical guidelines, and electronic template of preparing corruption proofing reports.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov and Ms Daniela Mineva, Center for the Study of Democracy, SELDI Secretariat, Bulgaria concluded the session with a presentation on the current state of affairs of anti-corruption in Bulgaria. They underlined that the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was put in place in Bulgaria due to the fact that EC rightfully viewed Bulgaria as not ready for EU membership. The CMS data for Bulgaria for the period 1998-2014 showed that even EU member-states such as Bulgaria can still detioriate in terms of corruption, if it does not sustain its anti-corruption efforts. Peoples' perception of the corruption spread has remained consistently high due to the corruption' persistently high practical efficiency as a tool for solving private problems. Although Bulgaria has established many anti-corruption bodies, including specialized anti-corruption courts and police units, no real results have been achieved. The need of independent judiciary, and convitions for high level corruption, as well as an independent procecution operating outside of the judiciary was brought forward as an orvearching policy recommendation. Ms Mineva underlined that also in Bulgaria like in Croatia there are civil society capture risks.










 

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events-1631Round Table: Energy Security in the Black Sea Region in the Wake of the Ukrainian Crisishttps://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-energy-security-in-the-black-sea-region-in-the-wake-of-the-ukrainian-crisis/On 10 June 2014, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) co-hosted at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. the roundtable Energy Security in the Black Sea Region in the Wake of the Ukrainian Crisis. The former Prime Minister of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borisov was a keynote speaker at the roundtable. Other participants included U.S. businesses, representatives of embassies of Black Sea and Central and East European countries, Washington based policy institutes and academics.On 10 June 2014, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) co-hosted at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. the roundtable Energy Security in the Black Sea Region in the Wake of the Ukrainian Crisis. The former Prime Minister of Bulgaria Mr. Boyko Borisov was a keynote speaker at the roundtable. Other participants included U.S. businesses, representatives of embassies of Black Sea and Central and East European countries, Washington based policy institutes and academics.

Mr. Philip Finiello, Senior Manager for European Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, opened the round table discussions with remarks on the unexplored potential of the transatlantic commercial partnership. He underlined that the Chamber has been a staunch supporter of an ambitious and comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), especially as recent events in East Europe have shown more than ever it is time to see this agreement operational. Mr. Finiello underlined that cooperation is particularly needed in the energy area.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at CSD, welcomed the cooperation between CSD and the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He underlined the importance of the International Index of Energy Security Risks (IIESR) developed by the Institute for 21st Century Energy for quantifying and exposing the main vulnerabilities of the energy sector in Bulgaria and the Black Sea region countries. Energy security vulnerabilities are particularly exacerbated in certain Central and East European countries including Bulgaria where growth and economic development have been impeded by high levels of energy poverty.

Mr. Martin Tsanov, Analyst, Economic Program at CSD, presented the latest IIESR results for the Black Sea countries included in the ranking. Mr. Tsanov pointed out that Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine are among the countries with the highest energy security risk according to IIESR. He added that the main energy security vulnerabilities common for the Black Sea region countries are energy expenditure intensity and import dependence leading to high levels of energy poverty and security of supply challenges. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov emphasized the relationship between high levels of corruption and bad governance and the low levels of energy security in some Black Sea countries. He also discussed the role of EU energy policies and the Russian influence as important external factors in delineating the energy security situation in the region.

Mr. Boyko Borisov, emphasized different opportunities for tackling effectively the challenges of high energy poverty and energy import dependence in Bulgaria. He welcomed future cooperation between the U.S. and Bulgarian businesses in exploring untapped conventional and non-conventional gas reserves in Bulgaria. The former PM emphasized that during the period of his cabinet, a consortium of three European energy companies has been contracted to explore gas reserves in the “Khan Asparuh” block on the basis of competitive tender procedures. Mr. Borisov pointed out that the gas reserves availability promise creates unique spillover investment opportunities for construction of thermal power stations and electricity production that could be exported within the whole Southeast Europe through the well-developed electricity grid of Bulgaria. He expressed his full support for the creation of the European Energy Union, noting that after the Ukrainian crisis, EU leaders had realized the significance of the unified position on major energy sector issues such as common gas price. It would be also easier for the EU and the US to negotiate for LNG supply to Europe through a European Energy Union platform. Mr. Borisov emphasized that investment opportunities in Bulgaria are not limited only to the energy sector and the untapped gas reserves but also include among others tourism, infrastructure, and agriculture.

In the subsequent discussion, Mr. Borisov answered a number of questions related to the development potential of unexplored Bulgarian gas reserves, not only for Bulgaria but also for the whole region. He underlined the expected investment spillover effect that gas exploration and production could bring to other industries and also in terms of job creation and local businesses development. Mr. Borisov discussed opportunities for different gas pipelines passing through the Balkans and once again emphasized the significance the establishment of European Energy Union might have on improving energy security in vulnerable countries in East Europe. He pointed out that infrastructure development in Bulgaria also presents interesting investment opportunities for US and European businesses, however stressing the importance of competitive tender procedures in contracting such projects.

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events-1635Academic Conference Improving Protection of Victims’ Rights: Access to Legal Aidhttps://csd.bg/events/event/academic-conference-improving-protection-of-victims-rights-access-to-legal-aid/On 9 June 2014 in Poznan, Poland, the Adam Mickiewicz University organised an academic conference on Improving Protection of Victims’ Rights: Access to Legal Aid. The conference marked the closing of a European initiative, implemented by a consortium of universities and NGOs from five Member States, including the Center for the Study of Democracy.On 9 June 2014 in Poznan, Poland, the Adam Mickiewicz University organised an academic conference on Improving Protection of Victims’ Rights: Access to Legal Aid. The conference marked the closing of a European initiative, implemented by a consortium of universities and NGOs from five Member States, including the Center for the Study of Democracy.

The Bulgarian delegation to the conference comprised Mr Georgi Spasov, member of the Expert Committee to the National Council for Assistance and Compensation to Victims of Crime, Mr Hristo Botev, attorney-at-law from the Sofia Bar Association, and Ms Miryana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy.

Partners to the initiative presented the research and practical findings made, as well as the conclusions and recommendations, sent to institutions and civic sector involved from Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy and Spain.

Representatives of the European Commission and scholars from Poland, the United Kingdom and Spain delineated the challenges before legal aid in Member States and the harmonisation of national legal orders with EU norms.

Practitioners from Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria and Latvia noted the problems, encountered during everyday work with victims, and the ways to improve the system for their protection in terms of communication, training of professionals and restorative justice.

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events-1627Round table ‘Adoption of Long-Term Policies for the Improvement of Status of Victims of Crime’https://csd.bg/events/event/round-table-adoption-of-long-term-policies-for-the-improvement-of-status-of-victims-of-crime/On 6 June 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table on ‘Adoption of Long-Term Policies for the Improvement of Status of Victims of Crime’ where magistrates, attorneys and representatives of civil society participated.On 6 June 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a round table on ‘Adoption of Long-Term Policies for the Improvement of Status of Victims of Crime’ where magistrates, attorneys and representatives of civil society participated.

In her opening remarks Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, welcomed the participants and shortly presented the main activities of the Center and the initiative ‘Improving protection of victims’ rights: access to legal aid’ within the framework of which the round table took place. She outlined the long-term research interest of the organization in the improvement of the status of vulnerable groups and the other initiatives of the Law Program in this regard.

Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, described the main parameters of the initiative on victims’ access to legal aid, in which the organization participated. She also dwelt on the key conclusions of the Bulgarian national report on legal aid to victims of crime, which the Center’s experts prepared, and some general recommendations on legislative and practical aspects of victim protection in Bulgaria, which the Law Program team had drawn from its overall experience researching victims’ rights.

Prof. Dobrinka Chankova, Chair of the Institute of Conflict Resolution (ICR), presented the theory and practice of the concept of restorative justice, as applied throughout the world, and the main types of restorative justice procedures, known to contemporary legal systems. Prof Chankova pointed out the gap in Bulgarian legislation, not allowing the use of mediation or related mechanisms in Bulgarian criminal justice, and emphasized the efforts of the country’s legal community for its introduction in law and practice. She also outlined ICR’s various research initiatives and contributions on scholarly and policy level.

Ms Svetlana Shopova-Koleva, prosecutor at the Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office, made an overview of EU Member States’ legislation and policies in the field of victims of crime, as explored by a recent research initiative she took part in as expert and practitioner. She noted that, from a comparative legal perspective, Bulgaria has high level of legislative protection of victims, but not all provisions are implemented in practice.

Ms Vladislava Doychinova, attorney-at-law from the Plovdiv Bar Association, presented an innovative online legal training platform and one of its modules, allowing victims of crime to get acquainted with their rights in criminal procedure and their entitlements to compensation and to be able to effectively exercise them. She stressed upon the importance of the victim’s right to information about his/her status and the ways by which new technologies can support the improvement of the status of those injured by crime.

In the ensuing discussion Mr Ivaylo Ivanov from the Bulgarian-Romanian Trans-Border Mediation Institute shortly described the Institute’s activities in promoting mediation as part of juvenile justice. Ms Rada Yossifova, attorney-at-law from the Sofia Bar Association, spoke about victims’ difficulties in obtaining compensation for non-pecuniary damage and, on the other hand, about the harm suffered by individuals unlawfully charged by the Prosecutor's Office, who later on file claims under the Law on State’s and Municipalities’ Liability for Damages. Ms Madlen Tanieliyan from the National Network for Children described the Network’s efforts in improving the status of children victims and perpetrators of crime and the long-term contribution of one of its members, the Social Activities and Practice Institute, to the introduction of specialized rooms for hearing children during proceedings. Ms Tzvetanka Spassova, Chief Secretary of the Union of Lawyers in Bulgaria, described the mediation courses the Union had delivered over the course of many years.




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events-1629Conference: Tackling the Hidden Economy in Macedonia: Strengthening the Public-Private Dialoguehttps://csd.bg/events/event/conference-tackling-the-hidden-economy-in-macedonia-strengthening-the-public-private-dialogue/On 5 June 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM), in association with the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), organized a conference in Skopje to discuss the state of the hidden economy in Republic of Macedonia.On 5 June 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM), in association with the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), organized a conference in Skopje to discuss the state of the hidden economy in Republic of Macedonia. Representatives from academia, community based organisations and private-sector employers talked about the informal economy monitoring practices, its different forms and possible interaction between the civil society sector and state institutions in an attempt to prevent it.

The conference was opened by Ms. Marija Risteska, Executive Director of CRPM, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program of CSD and Mr. Jaromir Levicek, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation in Skopje.

Mr. Levicek identified the hidden economy as a global phenomenon that indicates poor economic governance and structural problems. According to well-known research results, the scale of the hidden economy on the Balkans is above 30% of the GDP. The EC Progress Report on Macedonia points out the county’s slow improvement in tackling informal economic activities, which still stand as major challenges. Mr. Levicek expressed hope that the government authorities are aware of the problem and have the will to solve it.

Mr. Tome Nenovski, Professor in the American College in Skopje, commented on the level of hidden economy in Macedonia, which has decreased from 45% to 25% over the past ten years. In his view, the improvement is due to a better business and fiscal climate, tax reliefs, and state administration cuts. He emphasized that over the last 7-8 years the country’s informal sector has shrunk to levels close to the EU average. According to him, in comparison, the hidden economy in Kosovo exceeds 50% and in Bulgaria it reaches around 40% given the fact that average EU levels vary between 12% and 15%.

Mr. Lyubomir Mishkov, Marie Curie FP7 Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy, pointed out that the European practices in countering the hidden economy are characterized mostly by repressive measures with much smaller accent on enabling compliance and fostering commitment business measures. He emphasized the fact that without having a clear and locally relevant definition of the informal economy, it is impossible to determine what its main drivers are and to develop adequate policy responses. Mr. Mishkov described the hidden economy as part of the socio-economic dynamics of a given country.

Mr. Martin Tsanov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, discussed the link between the informal and the formal economy. He offered four directions for action including increase in the supply of formal jobs, regulation of informal enterprises and increase in their productivity and extending social and legal protection for informal workers.





Reader of Articles: Best Practices in Monitoring Hidden Economy






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events-1625Presentation of the country report on Bulgaria under the initiative Improving protection of victims' rights: access to legal aidhttps://csd.bg/events/event/presentation-of-the-country-report-on-bulgaria-under-the-initiative-improving-protection-of-victims/On 30 May 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the country report on Bulgaria under the initiative Improving protection of victims' rights: access to legal aid during a session of the National Council for Assistance and Compensation to Victims of Crime. On 30 May 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the country report on Bulgaria under the initiative Improving protection of victims' rights: access to legal aid during a session of the National Council for Assistance and Compensation to Victims of Crime.

Ms Miryana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center, described before the members of the Council the main results of the research, the conclusions and recommendations made, as well as the EU wide trends in improving the status of victims and the implications about Bulgaria's legislation and practices. A discussion ensued on the models for victims' protection in the other EU Member States participating in the initiative - Poland, Latvia, Italy and Spain.

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events-1623Public Discussion: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2014https://csd.bg/events/event/public-discussion-bulgarias-international-competitiveness-2014/On 22 May 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy will present Bulgaria’s results of the World Competitiveness Yearbook, published by the Institute for Management Development – IMD.On 22 May 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy presented the results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2014. The Center for the Study of Democracy is the official partner of the World Competitiveness Center at IMD (International Institute for Management Development) for Bulgaria. The previous eight issues of the Yearbook had a direct impact on the policy-making and were quoted in strategic policy documents of the Bulgarian government. International investors monitor very closely the IMD competitiveness ranking, which makes its 2014 results even more relevant. In 2014 Bulgaria is ranked in 56th position – one place above its 2013 rank.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented a general overview of the report’s results. He pointed out that after seven years of EU membership, Bulgaria does not have much to report with respect to its macroeconomic progress. According to Mr. Stefanov, Bulgaria’s low ranking is mainly the result of the continuing deflation, deficiencies in the energy policy and the lack of transparency and impartiality of the judiciary sector in Bulgaria. Although in general deflation could be a positive factor for a country’s competitiveness, for Bulgaria it poses a threat to the business environment and recovery of the economy. The insufficient efforts of the past governments and the current one to regulate the formation of the electricity prices for businesses and households also have a negative effect on the economy. Mr. Stefanov added that for the improvement of the Bulgarian competitiveness, there must be efficient rule of law, complemented with efficient functioning of the judiciary sector. Croatia, for instance, accessed the EU without being subjected to a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism like Bulgaria and Romania. In that regard Bulgaria is treated as a candidate for membership in the EU and not as a member. The shortcomings in the judiciary sector harm the domestic business environment, foreign investments, the country’s progress towards membership in the Schengen area and Bulgaria’s long-term competitiveness as a whole.

Mr. Martin Tsanov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, discussed the IMD results in detail. Bulgaria’s ranking in 2014 (56th out of 60), similar to the last two years, shows a tendency towards economic stagnation. The biggest improvement is observed in the export sector, but with a decrease in domestic demand. There are also positive developments with respect to the transport infrastructure, which can be attributed mainly to the assistance from EU funds. Bulgaria has also maintained a good ranking in the area of fiscal policy, due to its flat tax rate. The procedures for starting a new business are also positively assessed. Mr. Tsanov pointed out the lack of transparency of government decisions, underfunding of the education and healthcare sectors, low GDP per capita and high youth and long-term unemployment as particularly alarming indicators. Mr. Stefanov added that one of the reasons for the observed low GDP per capita in Bulgaria is the regressive nature of the tax system, which appears to burden a large part of the Bulgarian population.

Mr. Plamen Shalafov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, commented on the state of innovations in Bulgaria and the lack of incentives for conducting research. In the current context of EU elections, ‘innovation’ is not a topic on the agenda of any of the political parties. Mr. Shalafov outlined the lack of a clear innovations strategy in Bulgaria, the need to update the existing one, the fragmentation and lack of cooperation among different agencies and ministries in charge of the innovation policy as main drawbacks for the progress in the field of innovation. In addition, centralized decision-making does not allow the government to implement targeted innovation and research measures at the local level. Mr. Shalafov also highlighted the halt of research funding in the last two years and the relative underpayment of Bulgarian researchers compared to their EU colleagues.

Mr. Martin Vladimirov, Analyst at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, gave an overview of the current negative developments in the energy sector. He focused on three issues - regulatory unpredictability , lack of transparency in government decisions with respect to investment in big projects (e.g. South Stream), without initiation of a public debate and cost-benefit analysis, and the low level of energy diversification in Bulgaria. One of the key factors determining the investment decisions of companies willing to relocate to another country is the price of base goods such as utilities, including electricity, and the stability of those markets.


Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

Previous events

Public discussion: Bulgaria's International Competitiveness 2013
Press Conference: Bulgaria’s International Competitiveness 2012

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events-1617Training Module: The Status of Victims of Crime in Criminal Proceedings and Their Access to Legal Aid’https://csd.bg/events/event/training-module-the-status-of-victims-of-crime-in-criminal-proceedings-and-their-access-to-legal-ai/On 20 March 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a training module on ‘The Status of Victims of Crime in Criminal Proceedings and Their Access to Legal Aid’ where judges, prosecutors, attorneys and representatives of the Ministry of Justice participated.On 20 March 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a training module on ‘The Status of Victims of Crime in Criminal Proceedings and Their Access to Legal Aid’ where judges, prosecutors, attorneys and representatives of the Ministry of Justice participated.

In her opening remarks Dr Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, welcomed the participants and shortly presented the main activities of the Center and the initiative ‘Improving protection of victims’ rights: access to legal aid’ within the framework of which the module took place. She outlined the long-term research interest of the organization in the improvement of the status of vulnerable groups and the other initiatives of the Law Program in this regard.

After a short presentation of each of the participants, Ms Gergana Mutafova, regional prosecutor of Plovdiv, laid out the key legal standards of Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA and the current status of Bulgarian legal framework in this area. Ms Mutafova pointed out that criminal procedure often pays more attention to the rights of defendants and victimology is rarely studied in universities.

Ms Miriana Ilcheva, Research Fellow with the Law Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented the factsheets on the rights of victims in criminal proceedings, part of the European e-Justice Portal, whose initial drafting was coordinated by the Center’s experts. She outlined the challenges of creating such factsheets for all EU Member States and the conclusions drawn from them about Bulgarian law and practice.

Ms Petya Dobreva, Director of Legal Aid Directorate with the National Legal Aid Bureau described the experience of the Bureau in providing legal aid to victims of crime. She pointed out among the main problems of working with victims their low level of information and legal knowledge, as well as the low threshold, used to define indigency as criterion to be granted aid. Ms Dobreva emphasized the necessity of creating minimum standards for granting legal aid by attorneys, as well as a reliable statistical module on the aid given, and described the demotivating effects of the inadequate remuneration of attorneys under the Law on Legal Aid. She also gave a quick overview of the pilot initiative of the Bureau on national hotline for primary legal aid and regional consulting centers in the towns of Sliven and Vidin.

Mr Plamen Stefanov, attorney-at-law and co-ordinator of the Regional Consulting Centre in Vidin, supported the view that legal aid for victims forms a very small part of the overall legal aid provided and outlined the difficulties victims faced in obtaining their compensation from offenders, ruled upon by the courts. Mr Stefanov described the working procedures of the centre in Vidin and the ongoing visits of consulting attorneys in neighboring municipalities for consulting sessions. According to him, small burglaries present a particularly grave problem for the Vidin area, since criminal proceedings on them are often terminated due to the little value of the goods burglarized.

In the ensuing discussion Ms Gergana Mutafova elaborated on the small number of compensations under the Law on Support and Financial Compensation of Victims of Crime and the fact that criminal proceedings cannot be opened for every illegal act, harming citizens. Ms Valentina Adirkova, attorney-at-law from the Sofia Bar Association (SBA), stressed upon the larger volume of rights of accused and defendants in comparison with those of victims and agreed with her colleague Mr Vladislav Yanev, attorney-at-law, that victims suffer from a number of deficiencies in substantive and procedural law. Ms Radka Stoyanova, prosecutor in the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, criticized the current Criminal Procedure Code as falling behind victims’ rights framework from the 1990’s by constituting victims as parties only in trial proceedings and not observing fully equality of arms and protection of vulnerable groups. Mr Hristo Botev, attorney-at-law from the SBA, gave positive examples from his practice as counsel of victims and expressed his view that the problems they face are largely organizational.

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events-1619Workshop on alternatives to imprisonmenthttps://csd.bg/events/event/workshop-on-alternatives-to-imprisonment/On 13 March 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a workshop on alternatives to imprisonment in Barcelona, Spain, within the framework of the initiative ‘Re-socialisation of offenders in the EU: enhancing the role of the civil society (RE-SOC)’.On 13 March 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy held a workshop on alternatives to imprisonment in Barcelona, Spain, within the framework of the initiative ‘Re-socialisation of offenders in the EU: enhancing the role of the civil society (RE-SOC)’.

In her opening remarks, the guest speaker Ms Isabel Hernández, Team Coordinator for Barcelona South Alternative Penal Measures Area, Social Rehabilitation Institute (IRES), spoke about the implication of the civil society in the alternative measures enforcement in Barcelona. She briefed the participants about the activities of the IRES and described the organisation’s responsibilities in the area of enforcement of alternative measures.

Further, the participants of the workshop discussed the definition of alternatives to imprisonment. They agreed that not all non-custodial sanctions actually represent alternatives to imprisonment and should be analysed against the specific national background. As regards the scope of the definition, the participants agreed that suspended prison sentences and parole should also be considered as an alternative to imprisonment in addition to the non-custodial penalties. The participants also discussed the lack of adequate mechanisms to take into account the opinion of the people subjected to alternative measures when such measures are being evaluated. In this respect, the participants agreed that the study on alternatives to imprisonment should include a recommendation in the sense that alternative measures should also be evaluated taking into account the opinions and attitudes of the sentenced persons.

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events-1653A new initiative in support of vulnerable groups https://csd.bg/events/event/a-new-initiative-in-support-of-vulnerable-groups/The Center for the Study of Democracy started the initiative Civic organizations: a Guarantee for Equal Rights of Vulnerable Groups before the State. It will be implemented in 2014-2016 and aims at creating good conditions for the work of organizations, helping vulnerable groups in their relations with institutions, in view of reducing discrimination, inequalities, poverty and social exclusion of those communities.The Center for the Study of Democracy started the initiative Civic organizations: a Guarantee for Equal Rights of Vulnerable Groups before the State. It will be implemented in 2014-2016 and aims at creating good conditions for the work of organizations, helping vulnerable groups in their relations with institutions, in view of reducing discrimination, inequalities, poverty and social exclusion of those communities.
 

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events-1611Monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrantshttps://csd.bg/events/event/monitoring-the-integration-of-vulnerable-migrants/On the 18 and 19 of February 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy organised a workshop as part of the ASSESS project aiming at monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrant groups in ten EU Member States.On the 18 and 19 of February 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy organised a workshop as part of the ASSESS project aiming at monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrant groups in ten EU Member States. The main aim of the workshop was to discuss the methodology for the review of national monitoring mechanisms for the integration of migrants as well as to discuss and approve the concept of the ASSESS website. The participants in the workshop were Dr. Mila Mancheva, Kamelia Dimitrova, Svetla Encheva and Yva Alexandrova from CSD, Bulgaria, Christine Cassar and Jean Pierre Gauci from People for Change Foundation, Malta, Anna Italia and Luigi Bellesi from CENSIS – Italy, Lilla Jacobs and Dr. Vera Messig from CPS-CEU, Hungary, Dr. Dia Anagnostou and Anna Kandyla from ELIAMEP, Greece, Tímea Stránská and Romana Medvedova from People in Need, Slovakia, Dr. Ammer Margit from BIM, Austria, Reyes Castillo and Teresa De Gasperis from ACCEM, Spain, Myroslava Keryk from Lazarski University, Poland, as well as Zeynep Balci and Joris Michelsen from CeMIS, Belgium. Three advisory board members to the project also participated in the workshop. These were Prof. Heaven Crawley, Catherine Lynch and Ruth Rosenberg.

The workshop commenced with Dr. Mila Mancheva, who provided an overview of the project’s main objectives, phases and deliverables as well as partners’ responsibilities. It continued with a presentation on the draft concept of the ASSESS web site given by Christin Cassar from People for Change Foundation. Ms. Cassar pointed out that the main objectives of the web site are raising awareness, creating debate and sharing results in the field of monitoring the integration of vulnerable migrant groups.

Jean-Pierre Gauci from People for Change Foundation proceeded with a detailed presentation dealing with two main topics: indicators for measuring migrant integration at EU level and the methodology for review of national monitoring mechanisms for the integration of migrants. The main issues that were raised in the discussion that followed were the heterogeneity within vulnerable migrant groups, the complexity of the concept of vulnerability as well as the different realities at national level in terms of policies, openness of national authorities and data collection mechanisms.

Addressing the need of consistency and comparability of data collection in the ten participating countries few important issues were raised. Prof. Heaven Crawley, Ms. Ruth Rosenberg and Dr. Dia Anagnostou commented on the need to provide clear definitions on the main concepts of the research as well as on its main target groups: “integration”; “monitoring”; “vulnerability”; “child”; “victim of trafficking”. A number of participants stressed the importance of approaching the target groups of the research as heterogeneous rather than homogeneous in terms of their vulnerabilities. In this regard stress was made on the need to pay attention to various subgroups such as documented and undocumented migrants, children in families and unaccompanied children, ect. Debating on the importance of tracing the specific vulnerabiliries of each of the target groups of the research and following the proposition of Ms. Vera Messing from Center for Policy Studies at CEU participants agreed to introduce a segment on migrant vulnerability at national level in the forthcoming research.

The workshop continued with a fruitful discussion on data collection methods and sources. Dr. Anagnostou emphasized the need for a definition of monitoring and further elaboration on who collects data. Similarly, Ruth Rosenberg – an advisory board member – focused on the need for a clear definition of third country nationals, including in the national context of each of the ten EU Member States participating in this research. Prof. Crawley joined the debate by commenting on the importance of making a clear distinction between regional and national data. The participants agreed that after establishing the general framework of the data collection system in each country, the more specific questions that are related to data useful for the purposes of monitoring can be systematically analyzed.

The workshop concluded with agreement on a number of elaborations in the presented research methodology an announced the launch of the national data collection phase of their collaborative work.



Co-funded by
the European Union.

* This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the CSD, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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events-1613Methodology for participatory research among Roma communitieshttps://csd.bg/events/event/methodology-for-participatory-research-among-roma-communities/On the 17 and 18 of February 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy organised in Sofia a workshop with partners from 7 countries to discuss a methodology for participatory research among Roma communities.On the 17 and 18 of February 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy organised in Sofia a workshop with partners from 7 countries to discuss a methodology for participatory research among Roma communities within the framework of the Countering New Forms of Roma Child Trafficking (CONFRONT) project. The methodology is to guide the project field work, which will seek to explore new forms of child trafficking affecting Roma communities, to build the capacities of the communities to prevent trafficking and to improve assistance mechanisms for child victims.

The workshop participants shared common challenges in their preliminary research phase. Such challenges included lack of ethinically disaggregated data on trafficking. It was also pointed out by most countries that cooperation of authorities on data sharing was at low levels, due to data protection laws and also due to reluctance from the authorities.

Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova, research fellow at the CSD, explained the main principles and the characteristics of participatory research (hereafter: PR). Moreover, her presentation also contrasted PR with the traditional research and identified the fundamental differences. The point was made by Ms. Dimitrova that PR puts the Roma communities in the center of the research making these communities become influential in decision making process. Similarly, the presentation called attention to the expected outcomes of PR, especially the empowerment quality by informing the Community on the issues deeply effecting them therefore informing and mobilising them against risks of trafficking.

The next speaker was Dr. Brenda Oude Breul from the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminology and Criminal Law at the Utrecht University, the Netherlands. She gave a overview on the risks and challenges of the participatory approach in which she highlighted some possible drawbacks that a researcher could face while taking on PR methods. In accordance, she pointed out the problem of community distrust and the vitality of building trust for any visible progress to take place in the research. Likewise, she identified ‘trafficking’ as being a sensitive issue within the Roma Community therefore a hard topic to discuss and learn about. In regards to this, she proposed the usage of indirect questions to learn about the place and the importance of children in Roma families and Communities, eventually leading the researcher to be informed about the issue of trafficking and exploitation of children.

The workshop continued with the presentatiton of Ms. Erika Bodor, Project Coordinator from the European Roma Rights Centre, France, as she talked about a succcessful PR methodology applied in the Roma communities in France called ‘Women’s Empowerment Project in France’. Firstly, Ms. Bodor talked about the situation in France in which poverty and housing are two biggest problems threatening the quality of life of Roma communities. She pointed out the importance of having specific objectives driving the Participatory Research, and also the added benefits of using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The presentation especially highlighted the utility gained from having mediators that were themselves from the Roma community. Consequently, she indicated that giving these Romani mediators contracts went hand-in-hand with the empowerment aspect of PR. Like the previous speakers, she underlined the importance of gaining the trust of the community to be the key aspect that makes the research successful.

The next participants to present were Dr. Mila Mancheva and Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova from the CSD. They concentrated on the possible PR methods that can be used in undertaking this research concerning the Roma communities. The presentatiton included methods such as focus groups, community mapping and venn diagrams, with examples on how to make use of these methods. In regards to the presentation of methods, another distinctive method was introduced by Yva Alexandrova from CSD, called “life stories method”. Ms. Alexandrova pointed out that this practice allows for anonymity on sensitive issues therefore could be very helpful in understanding the issue of trafficking and exploitation from different points of view. Following this the first day came to an end after a discussion on the information conveyed by the participants in these presentations.

During the second day, participants discussed practical and theoretical aspects of conducting participatory research among Roma communities. Discussions on how to frame the issue of child begging and how to ensure a culturally sensitive approach to exploring childhood and child rearing in the Roma communities helped achieve a better understanding on how to approach the pending field research. Another important discussion helped identify strategies to contribute to the empowerment of the communities through the field work. The research should be regarded as a two-way knowledge sharing process: communities share information about their ways of life, project partners share information about rights of children/victims and available assistance for families and children at risk. Last but not least, the project coordinator, Ms. Dimitrova, explained that the knowledge generated through the field work will serve to improve the capacities of local child protection authorities and child assistance service providers to prevent child trafficking and to offer more sustainable assistance to victims.

List of the participants of the workshop:

Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova, CSD, Bulgaria
Doc. Dr. Andrey Nonchev, CSD, Bulgaria
Dr. Mila Mancheva, CSD, Bulgaria
Ms. Yva Alexandrova, CSD, Bulgaria
Ms. Svetla Encheva, CSD, Bulgaria
Ms. Maria Karayotova, CSD, Bulgaria
Dr. Brenda Oude Breul, Willem Pompe Institute for Criminology and Criminal Law, the Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Advisory board member
Ms. Erika Bodor, Project Coordinator from the European Roma Rights Centre, France Advisory board member, Advisory board member
Mr. Luigi Bellesi, CENSIS, Italy
Ms. Sara Giannone, CENSIS, Italy
Ms. Lilla Jacobs, CPS-CEU, Hungary
Ms. Zsuzsanna Vidra, CPS-CEU, Hungary
Ms. Dia Anagnostou, ELIAMEP, Greece
Ms. Anna Kandyla, ELIAMEP, Greece
Ms. Tímea Stránská, People in Need, Slovakia
Ms. Romana Medvedova, People in Need, Slovakia
Ms. Ammer Margit, BIM, Austria
Ms. Daniela Tarnovschi, SOROS Foundation, Romania
Mr. Iulian Stoian, SOROS Foundation, Romania



Co-funded by
the European Union.

* This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the CSD, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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events-1607Workshop on monitoring migrant integrationhttps://csd.bg/events/event/workshop-on-monitoring-migrant-integration/On the February 18-19, 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy will hold a Workshop on monitoring migrant integration. The meeting will welcome representatives of nine research institutions from Austria, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.On the February 18-19, 2014 the Center for the Study of Democracy will hold a Workshop on monitoring migrant integration. The meeting will welcome representatives of nine research institutions from Austria, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Spain. Participants will gather to discuss a Methodology for review of national monitoring mechanisms for the integration of migrants as well as a concept for a web site on migrant integration. The workshop is co-funded by the European Union.

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events-1609Workshop for consulting on the Methodology for Project CONFRONThttps://csd.bg/events/event/workshop-for-consulting-on-the-methodology-for-project-confront/Partners in the Countering New Forms of Roma Child Trafficking project (CONFRONT) will meet in Sofia on 17 February 2014 to consult a methodology on participatory research with active involvement of the Roma communities.Partners in the Countering New Forms of Roma Child Trafficking project (CONFRONT) will meet in Sofia on 17 February 2014 to consult a methodology on participatory research with active involvement of the Roma communities.
The research focuses on three new forms of trafficking: child begging, labour exploitation for pick-pocketing and sexual exploitation of boys. The fieldwork will take place Roma communities in as Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
The research methodology relies on active participation of members of the minority group in the research design, implementation of the study and analysis of the results.
The projects’ objectives are:

  • To strengthen counter-trafficking efforts targeting Roma children by providing better understanding of new forms of trafficking through developing and testing new methods of participatory research and carrying out evidence-based analysis;
  • To empower Roma communities to act as equal partner in counter-trafficking policies and measures;
  • To enhance child victim support in countries of origin and destination by developing pilot initiatives for child victims of trafficking support and sensitising service providers and child protection authorities to new forms of trafficking and improving coordination.

 

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events-1615National Report on Legal Aid for Victims of Crimehttps://csd.bg/events/event/national-report-on-legal-aid-for-victims-of-crime/As a key research effort under its initiative Improving Protection of Victim’s Rights: Access to Legal Aid, supported by the European Commission and carried out in a consortium of universities and organisations from 4 EU Member States, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) launched its national report on the legal framework and practices in providing legal aid to victims.As a key research effort under its initiative Improving Protection of Victim’s Rights: Access to Legal Aid, supported by the European Commission and carried out in a consortium of universities and organisations from 4 EU Member States, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) launched its national report on the legal framework and practices in providing legal aid to victims.

The report explores whether those harmed by crime receive sufficient information about their legal situation, who is entitled to legal aid and what its scope and extent is. The document also relates the opinions of various institutional, private and NGO stakeholders, approached by CSD researchers, on the situation of victims, as regards their access to legal aid and advice.

The report concludes that, currently, much effort is taken in striving to provide adequate legal aid to victims of crime as part of the overall process to enhance their position. This is witnessed by the recent amendments in the Law on Legal Aid, expanding considerably the circle of victims, eligible to receive state-provided legal aid, the efforts of the National Legal Aid Bureau to improve the qualification of attorneys involved, as well as the recent launch of the much awaited initiative for a national hotline for primary legal aid and pilot consulting centres in Sliven and Vidin.

Nevertheless, the document recommends that:
• a full review is to be made of the compliance of Bulgarian legislation with the recent EU legislation, related to rights of victims of crime;
• the experience gathered by the newly launched national hotline and pilot consulting centres is to be analysed carefully and replicated via other consulting centres especially in vulnerable regions;
• the National Legal Aid Bureau is to use all channels to expand its knowledge base for working with victims, including further cooperation with bar councils and victim protection NGOs.

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events-1601Public Discussion: Corruption and Anti-corruption in Bulgaria (2012-2013)https://csd.bg/events/event/public-discussion-corruption-and-anti-corruption-in-bulgaria-2012-2013/On 29 November 2013, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation presented CSD’s annual policy brief on “Corruption and Anti-corruption in Bulgaria 2012 – 2013”, as well as the latest results from the Corruption Monitoring system, developed by CSD and the sociological agency Vitosha Research.On 29 November 2013, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation presented CSD’s annual policy brief on “Corruption and Anti-corruption in Bulgaria 2012 – 2013”, as well as the latest results from the Corruption Monitoring system, developed by CSD and the sociological agency Vitosha Research.

Ms. Regine Schubert, Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bulgaria, welcomed the cooperation between the two organizations on anti-corruption in Bulgaria. She expressed her disappointment with the slow progress in the fight against corruption in the country, as highlighted by the European Commission on multiple occasions. Ms. Schubert is hopeful that the new government will fulfil its promises in the field of anti-corruption and deliver tangible improvements in the coming year.

Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, Director of research at CSD, presented the latest results from the Corruption Monitoring System and noted that the level of administrative corruption in Bulgaria affecting the population and the business sector has not changed compared to the previous year. He pointed out though that paying bribes has become the standard way of dealing with certain everyday administrative hurdles, and citizens engage in it without even being prompted by the administration. Mr. Stoyanov attributed this to the lack of sustained tangible change in the social environment, which is conducive to corrupt practices. Even though civil servants are exerting less corruption pressure, the number of people who would offer a bribe without being asked for it is increasing. The level of corruption in the business sector has not changed significantly since 2007.

Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the Law Program at CSD, gave an overview of the functioning of the main anti-corruption agencies in Bulgaria. The report suggests that the incoherent policies introduced by these institutions, or lack thereof, are among the main factors, which allow for the high levels of corruption to persist. Consequently, these agencies suffer from very low levels of public trust. She underlined that it was particularly worrying that this year the Constitutional Court’s integrity had also been compromised, as its primary role is to provide an upstanding example for the other bodies in the judicial system and uphold the Constitution.

Dr. Philip Gounev, Senior Analyst in the Security Program at CSD, assessed the anticorruption activities of the main law enforcement institutions. He suggested that Bulgaria lacks a politically independent investigative body, due to the scarce human resources necessary to carry out investigations, particularly at the highest levels of power. The series of ill planned structural reforms, which have been introduced since mid-2013, have effectively halted the anti-corruption activities, both within the police and the revenue agencies.

Previous event

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events-1599The Protests in Bulgaria and on the Balkans in 2013: the state of democratic institutionshttps://csd.bg/events/event/the-protests-in-bulgaria-and-on-the-balkans-in-2013-the-state-of-democratic-institutions/On 22 November 2013, the Center for the Study of Democracy, in cooperation with the Centre for East European Language Based Areas Studies (CEELBAS), organised a seminar on “The Protests in Bulgaria and the Balkans in 2013: the state of democratic institutions&quot;.On 22 November 2013, the Center for the Study of Democracy, in cooperation with the Centre for East European Language Based Areas Studies (CEELBAS), organised a seminar on “The Protests in Bulgaria and the Balkans in 2013: the state of democratic institutions". The event was attended by researchers from Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, representatives of non-governmental organisation (NGO’s), journalists and protesters. The discussion focused on three main themes:

  • the similarities and differences between the protests in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece;


  • the main features of the protests in Bulgaria;


  • the role of democratic institutions, including the media and NGO’s, in the development of the protests.

Over the last two years there has been growing public discontent in countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The protests in Turkey started as a result of the government’s plans to build a shopping centre in “Gezi” park in Istanbul. The police’s aggressive reaction brought together many different groups (young people, women, religious minorities, opposition parties), which joined the protests to show their discontent with what they believe are increasingly authoritarian government policies. Despite the coming together of the opposition parties, the unprecedented scale of the demonstrations and the mass use of social media, the protests eventually wound down. The Turkish government organised alternative protests in various cities to demonstrate the support for its policies. In Greece, the protests were the result of the economic crisis and the austerity measures that followed, which were met with widespread discontent among the population. Similarly to the protests in Turkey, the demonstrations in Greece were characterised by widespread use of social media for organising people and guaranteeing mass participation, but there was no use of violence by the police forces. Despite having a significant political effect, such as the emergence of far-right political parties, the protests were aimed at the political leadership, but also at the economic policies imposed on Greece by the EU and international financial institutions. The common denominator between all protests in the Balkans is the key role of social media. Unlike Greek and Turkish citizens, Bulgarians demand more transparency and the upholding of moral values in the entire political realm, which means that no party is benefitting from the protests. Similarly to the events in Turkey, the Bulgarian political parties represented in parliament also organised protests in support of the government. Furthermore, counter-protests were organised too. The protests in Bulgaria are characterized by remarkable endurance over time and the use of social media not only as a means for protesters to organise themselves, but also as a primary source of clear information regarding government policies. This is the result of the lack of transparency with regards to the ownership of electronic and printed media and the reasonable doubt that they are also dependant on the same economic interests which control the government. The spontaneous nature of the protests has led to the formation of horizontal networks with no leaders in all three countries. The lack of leadership among the protesters is unduly used by politicians as an excuse to avoid direct communication with them, which further deteriorates people’s trust in public institutions. Unlike in Greece, a way of including protests in the governance structure of democratic institutions has not yet been identified in Bulgaria and Turkey, which continues to put in question their legitimacy and maturity, as well as their ability to address the contradictions which have emerged in Bulgaria’s society. One of the possible ways to overcome the socio-political crisis is increasing the transparency of all public institutions, alongside real, rather than formal, consultations with civil society during the decision-making process. Event coverage by CEELBAS

 

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events-1597Public Discussion: Hidden Economy in Bulgaria 2012-2013https://csd.bg/events/event/public-discussion-hidden-economy-in-bulgaria-2012-2013/On 20 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation presented CSD’s annual report on the Hidden Economy Index for the period 2012 – 2013. The event was attended by representatives of government agencies, non-governmental and international organizations, diplomatic missions and local media.On 20 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation presented CSD’s annual report on the Hidden Economy Index for the period 2012 – 2013. The event was attended by representatives of government agencies, non-governmental and international organizations, diplomatic missions and local media.

Ms. Regine Schubert, Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Bulgaria welcomed the longstanding cooperation between CSD and the Foundation in preparing the hidden economy report and pointed out that it not only provides a thorough economic analysis, but also recommendations for tackling hidden economic activities. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at CSD, briefly presented the two indices, which the report is based upon (the Business Hidden Economy Index and the Population Unreported Economic Activity Index) and pointed out that the methodology has a successful and longstanding track record. Parts of it are employed on a European level and can be used for a comparative analysis between member states.

Mr. Martin Tsanov, Analyst, Center for the Study of Democracy presented the main findings of this year’s report. Bulgaria’s main macroeconomic indicators show slow economic growth, weak competitiveness, and gloomy labour market conditions. These trends facilitate the development of hidden economic activities, which is reflected by the increase in both indices of the hidden economy in 2013 - of the population and of the business. The data shows only a slight increase in the practice of hiring workers without a formal employment contract. But the rate of employment under a contract with hidden clauses (envelope wages) is the highest since 2002 – 13.8% of the employed reported having received remuneration higher than the one stated in their contract. In view of the main findings of the report, some of the main measures to tackle hidden economic activities in Bulgaria should include increasing the level of electronic payments, wider e-government penetration, and improving legislation aimed at restricting market cartelisation. A key recommendation of the report is to introduce clearer accountability and performance measurement regulations for the government regulatory agencies.

Mr. Todor Galev, Senior analyst in the Economic Program at CSD suggested that one of the main reasons for underreporting incomes is the low level of confidence in the social security system. According to him, speeding up the digitalisation of the EU funds absorption process and improving the coordination between regulatory agencies are important steps towards limiting the hidden economy in Bulgaria.

During the subsequent discussion, Professor Ivan Angelov from the Economic Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences pointed out that one of the worst effects of the hidden economy is the demoralization of the participants in legitimate economic activities. Mr. Nikolay Petkov, representative of the National Revenue Agency, noted that the VAT gap data for Bulgaria is lower that the EU average. He also pointed out that this data is subject to political speculations, which leads many agencies in the EU to eschew publishing it.

For more information on the topic, please visit:





Previous events

Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)

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events-1589SELDI Training Seminar in Skopjehttps://csd.bg/events/event/seldi-training-seminar-in-skopje/On 7-8 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy, as coordinator of the SELDI initiative, in cooperation with its local partners from the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Institute for Democracy &quot;Societas Civilis&quot; and Ohrid Institute for Economic Strategies and International Affairs will carry out an anti-corruption monitoring training in Skopje.On 7-8 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy, as coordinator of the SELDI initiative, in cooperation with its local partners from the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Institute for Democracy "Societas Civilis" and Ohrid Institute for Economic Strategies and International Affairs will carry out an anti-corruption monitoring training in Skopje. The training will gather representatives of the SELDI partners from nine countries, as well as local CSOs, policy-makers, survey agencies and the media. The lecturers will present practical and methodological knowledge on corruption monitoring techniques. A particular focus of the training will be CSD’s Corruption Monitoring System (CMS) and the required steps for the successful implementation of nine corruption monitoring surveys, planned for the beginning of 2014. The participants will also discuss the main topics to be covered in the nine upcoming country-specific Corruption Assessment Reports, possible sources of information and policy recommendations.

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events-1603Assessing integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups https://csd.bg/events/event/assessing-integration-measures-for-vulnerable-migrant-groups/Aiming to strengthen efforts for the integration of third country nationals across the EU, CSD launched on 1 November 2013 an initiative aimed at enhancing the integration of three vulnerable migrant groups – women, children and victims of trafficking.Aiming to strengthen efforts for the integration of third country nationals across the EU, CSD launched on 1 November 2013 an initiative aimed at enhancing the integration of three vulnerable migrant groups – women, children and victims of trafficking.

The project Assessing Integration Measures for Vulnerable Migrant Groups (ASSESS) aims to monitor and assesses the effectiveness of integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups by looking at the strengths and weaknesses in the application of the Common Basic Principles on Migrant Integration. The assessment will serve to identify and initiate the exchange of good practice in the field between EU countries of different migration patterns, regimes and experiences. By looking at the specific vulnerabilities and integration challenges faced by migrant women, children and victims of trafficking the project will offer tailored methodology and specific indicators for monitoring the integration of these vulnerable migrants groups.

The project’s main objectives include:

  • To develop standardized methods for the monitoring of integration of vulnerable migrants, applicable across the EU;
  • To assess the effectiveness of integration policy/ measures for vulnerable migrant groups (women, children and victims of trafficking);
  • To formulate recommendations for enhancement of the integration of vulnerable migrant groups (women, children and VOTs) across the EU, including identification of good practices;
  • To raise awareness among national stakeholders across the EU of the need to develop vulnerability-sensitive integration processes that address the particular circumstances of vulnerable migrants related to exclusion, exploitation and trafficking.


The key project actions include:

  • Review of existing monitoring mechanisms for the integration of migrants and migrant vulnerable groups at EU and national level (in 10 EU member states).
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of integration measures for vulnerable migrant groups (women, children and VOTs) in 10 EU Member States.
  • Collection and Exchange of Good Practices in the are of integration of vulnerable migrants.
  • Advocacy and dissemination at EU and national level of key recommendations and of the tailored methodology.


This project will be carried out in 10 EU Member States that represent Europe’s different migration patterns and experiences in dealing with migration and integration issues. Respectively it will be implemented by consortuim of 10 partner organisations that include:

  • Center for the Study of Democracy, CSD – project leader (Bulgaria)

The ASSESS project is co-funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals. The project started in November 2013 and will end in April 2015. Co-funded by the European Union. * This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the CSD, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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events-1595International Seminar: EU Financial Interests under Threat: New Approaches in Assessing the Risks from Public Procurement and EU Funds Fraudhttps://csd.bg/events/event/international-seminar-eu-financial-interests-under-threat-new-approaches-in-assessing-the-risks-fr/On 31 October – 1 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy, with the support of The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), organized an international seminar on “EU Financial Interests under Threat: New Approaches in Assessing the Risks from Public Procurement and EU Funds Fraud”. On 31 October – 1 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy, with support of The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), organized an international seminar on “EU Financial Interests under Threat: New Approaches in Assessing the Risks from Public Procurement and EU Funds Fraud”. The event provided a discussion platform for representatives of national fraud and public procurement authorities, research institutions, international organizations and the private sector from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the event and highlighted CSD’s efforts in the field of anti-corruption, in particular its long-established Corruption Monitoring System and cooperation with national and European authorities. CSD aims to continue working in this regard, by developing a specific indicator to assess public procurement fraud in Bulgaria. Mr. Nikolas Kanellopoulos, Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights in Greece pointed out that the public procurement sector is fraught with opportunities for fraudulent activities. He also presented the recent changes that the Greek government has introduced to tackle such activities.

Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, moderated the first session of the event, which focused on “Policy Perspectives and Implementation Instruments”. He pointed out that the misuse of public resources can have particularly negative outcomes in the context of the current economic climate. Dr. Ioannis Karkalis, Supreme Court Justice in the Vice-Commissioner of the State in Greece explained that the widening income gap and deterioration of democracy are among the main negative consequences of corruption and fraud in the public sector. He presented the Anti-Corruption Authority Standards developed by the European Partners Against Corruption as a suitable guideline for national authorities. Dr. Karkalis also discussed the three prevailing approaches aimed at tackling corruption in the public sector - interventionism (which focuses on criminalizing fraudulent activities), managerialism (which aims at creating rules to prevent corruption) and integrity (which relies on prevention through awareness raising in civil society).

Mr. Wim Wensink, Project manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), presented the latest report commissioned by OLAF on fraud in public procurement. The study includes an innovative methodology which aims to measure the cost of corruption in the public sector. The study uses 27 “red flags” to identify irregular activities in public procurement tenders. According to PwC, the estimated cost of fraud in public procurement of the 8 EU Member States, studied in the report, is between EUR 1.47 bln. and EUR 2.25 bln.

The second session dealt with “EU funds: Assessing Corruption Risks and Impacts” and was opened by Mr. Domenico Perrotta, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Protection and Security of the Citizen, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. He presented a statistical methodology used to monitor types of trade fraud by examining trade flow patterns, price outliers and systematic underpricing. This methodology is being used to detect stockpiling, evasion of import duties, deflection of trade, money laundering and VAT fraud, but could be applied to public procurement contracts too.

Dr. Gian Luigi Albano, procurement expert at Consip Italy, an agency of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, outlined the Consip`s role, which includes determining procurement strategies, awarding contracts and managing the project, once the contract is given. He pointed out that one of the main issues with the public procurement cycle in the EU is that the authorities, be it at national or European level, have very limited involvement in the process, once the contract has been signed. At the same time, this is the phase when most irregularities occur, due to imprecise and unclear contracting and therefore needs to be monitored very closely.

On behalf of Ms. Miglena Pavlova, Executive Director of the Public Procurement Agency in Bulgaria, Ms. Ana Mitkova presented the main features of the public procurement system in Bulgaria, as well as the most common malpractices in this sector, such as tailoring tenders to benefit predetermined contractors, including unrealistic demands and manipulating assessment procedures. She suggested that the new Public Procurement Law addresses some of these issues by making the process more transparent and simple, through the introduction of both ex-ante and ex-post reviews.

Dr. Philip Gounev, Senior Analyst, Security Program, Center for the Study of Democracy moderated the third session on “Industry Focus: assessing the extent of fraud in vulnerable industries”. Mr. Evgeny Smirnov, Senior Procurement Specialist from the Procurement Department of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), introduced some new approaches for an assessment of prohibited practices risks, defined as coercive, collusive, corrupt and fraudulent. The main procurement principle and integral part of project risk management applied by the EBRD is to minimize risk and maximize success. Mr. Smirnov outlined some of the main irregular practices which are common in public tendering and highlighted the Multilateral Development Banks’ Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions Approach, which acts as a deterrent against corrupt practices.

Ambassador Ilian Vassilev, Honorary Chairman of the Bulgarian Economic Forum, focused on the complex risks and challenges for energy and infrastructure projects in particular. Using the example of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant, he suggested that public procurement irregularities are possible when a certain technology or machinery is chosen, which limits the number of investors who can participate in the project due to their specific expertise. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov added that the energy and healthcare sectors present the biggest public procurement challenges not only in Bulgaria, but on EU level as well.

Mr. Sorin Ionita, President of the Romanian think tank Expert Forum (EFOR) gave an insight into recent research on political clientelism, primarily in Romania and Moldova. In order to measure corrupt activities objectively, the organization has developed a specific indicator, which analyzes the allocations of funds from the government to local authorities. The results showed widespread clientelism, linked to mayors’ political affiliation.

The fourth session of the event was dedicated to “Assessing procurement fraud: policies and practice”. Mr. Edward Nkune, Director of the National Fraud Authority (NFA) in the United Kingdom gave an overview of the UK institutional developments in response to combating fraud and presented the Annual Fraud Indicator, developed by the NFA. Given the lack of consistent data, it is difficult to observe trends and therefore the indicator’s original purpose was to raise awareness about the subject of fraud in public procurement. Furthermore, the NFA has used the indicator to produce a resilience map of the most vulnerable groups and sectors, as well as to identify and spread the best anti-fraud practices. Mr. Nkune identified the sharing of best practices and the use of more data analytics among the key principal elements in the process of applying effective fraud monitoring.

Mr. Silviu Popa, Senior Expert at the National Council for Solving Complaints in Romania presented a detailed overview of the work of his organization, in particular dealing with complaints related to public procurement tenders. Highlighted among the most common problems are the non-transparent assessment criteria, excessive requirements aimed at favoring a particular applicant and lack of clarification with regard to the contract-awarding decision. According to Mr. Popa, legislative clarity, adequate staff training and reduced bureaucratic procedures are among the most effective ways to overcome these shortcomings.

Mr. Georgi Zaikov and Mr. Borislav Hlebarov, representatives of the “Coordination of the fight against infringements affecting the financial interests of the EU" Directorate (AFCOS), which is part of the Ministry of the Interior in Bulgaria, described the organization`s institutional structure and activities. Apart from cooperating with the other AFCOS centers throughout the EU-28, the AFCOS directorate has the powers to perform checks on administrative irregularities in cooperation with national and regional authorities. The organization`s methodological step-by-step process for administrative investigations was demonstrated by a detailed case-study.

The final session of the event dealt with “Countering public procurement fraud: European perspectives”. Professor Ernesto Savona, Director of Transcrime, Italy, emphasized the importance of focusing not only on increasing transparency in the public sector, but also efficiency, by avoiding the use of too many regulations. Furthermore, Professor Savona highlighted the need to focus on risk assessment models,