EC: Bulgarian Wiretapping Does Not Violate EU Laws

Bulgaria in EU | February 16, 2011, Wednesday // 08:16|  views

ALDE MEP, Stanimir Ilchev, wants answers about what is happening with the information collected by special surveillance devices that is not used in court. Photo by BGNES

The European Parliament debates about the use of special surveillance devices (SRS) by Bulgarian authorities stirred late-night heated reactions among the majority if the Bulgarian EP Members.

They stayed in the almost deserted plenary hall to exchange accusations about police abuse and election campaigning on the part of the opposition.

The debates began earlier Tuesday with a statement of the EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs,  in response to inquiries from MEPs from the Party of European Socialists, PES, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, ALDE, (among whom Bulgarian MEPs Antoniya Parvanova and Stanimir Ilchev). The two parliamentary groups requested from the European Commission to investigate if the use of special surveillance devices in Bulgaria is in line with the EU legislation and the EU Main Human Rights Charter.

Pielbags explained the EC probe had not been able to find any contradiction in the Bulgarian SRS Act with the EU laws, but stressed the law must be enforced by the government in Bulgaria and that wiretapping can be used only under exceptional circumstances. The Commissioner promised EC will continue to follow and monitor the issue.

MEPs from the European People's Party, EPP, issued a joint statement in support of the EC position about correspondence between Bulgarian and EU legislation. Later, EPP MEPs said during the debates they were utterly amazed such debates must be carried out on European level when the issue is an internal one.

Bulgaria's ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party is an EPP member.

Bulgarian EPP MEPs accused the opposition of taking the local election campaign to the EP. Andrey Kovachev from GERB declared it is a shame Bulgarians fight Bulgarians in the EP plenary hall, while Iliyana Ivanova, also from GERB, called the situation a "sorry staging on the part of the opposition aiming at tarnishing Bulgaria's image."

Only Nadezhda Neyski, from the right-wing Blue Coalition, also member of EPP, voiced a personal position, saying a debate on human rights can never be just internal and it is unacceptable to equal the opposition with organized crime.

ALDE and PES MEPs also stated the debate is taking place for the sake of civil rights and personal security of Bulgarians, pointing out mass spying violates a number of EU directives and the Human Rights Charter.

Many Bulgarian and foreign MEPs insisted the EC must investigate why spying cases in Bulgaria in 2010 amounted to 16 000, but only 12% were used as court evidence. Some stressed that despite the fact the SRS Act does not violate EU laws, it is applied out of proportion

Stanimir Ilchev asked answers about what is happening with the information collected by SRS that is not used in court. He was joined by MEPs from Austria, Hanes Svoboda, and Italy, Gianni Vattimo (PES), who declared the Bulgarian practices make the country a police State while Antonyia Parvanova called the cabinet's style a "Mussolini" one.

Tags: wiretapping, Tapegate, Vanyo Tanov, Boyko Borisov, stanimir ilchev, Antoniya Parvanova, European parliament, European Commission, resolution, MEPs, PES, ALDE, EPP, Andris Piebalgs


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