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Day Two of European Chief Prosecutor’s Official Visit to Bulgaria – Wrap-up

On the second day of her official visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi conferred with Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov, and Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova. 
The meeting between Kövesi and Prosecutor General Geshev was also attended by the Bulgaria’s representative at the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), Teodora Georgieva, Kövesi’s Acting Head of Unit Milan Jaron, as well as deputy prosecutors general Daniela Masheva and Desislava Pironeva. A statement on the website of the prosecuting magistracy notes that the conversation centred around the interaction between the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding combating fraud with European Union funds, VAT abuse, money laundering, corruption and organized crime. “Another fruitful meeting with Ms. Kövesi . Good results in the fight against crime can be achieved through constructive and professional dialogue,” reads a tweet of the Bulgarian Prosecutor General. 
Interior Minister Rashkov and the European Chief Prosecutor held a working meeting focused on actions by the Bulgarian side to create a team of investigative officers at the Ministry of Interior, who will work on EPPO cases. Laura Kövesi praised the work of the Ministry of Interior so far and expressed hope for even more active direct reporting of cases of serious misuse of EU funds. Both sides expressed readiness to continue the partnership cooperation between the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and the EPPO.
During the talks, Kövesi  praised the work of the Bulgarian delegated prosecutors. The Bulgarian side presented the recently adopted rules regulating the cooperation between the Ministry of Interior and the EPPO, as well as the launched legislative initiative regarding specialized justice. They are expected to optimize the process of investigating organized crime cases.
Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova and Kövesi discussed the working issues that needed to be addressed set by the visiting magistrates within the competence of the executive branch, respectively the legislature, Yordanova told reporters in Parliament. In Yordanova’s words, the conversation was entirely within the competence of the EPPO and the Ministry of Justice. First matter of business were all changes in the Penal Code to remove obstacles to effective investigation and punishment of crimes related to fraud with EU funds. This is an issue that has been discussed for years, but there are already concrete proposals on the table, said the Minister of Justice.
The next group of issues discussed were amendments to the Judiciary Act, which are being prepared to ensure more efficient and independent work of European delegated prosecutors in Bulgaria, so as to ensure the full implementation of the regulation on the EPPO, said Yordanova.
Yordanova informed Kövesi about Bulgaria’s progress. She noted that legislative procedures recognizing the competence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office were finally completed last month in cases where there was an element related to Member States that had not adopted the Regulation on the EPPO or were Member States of the Council of Europe.
According to a press release of the Justice Ministry, the European Chief Prosecutor thanked for Bulgaria’s confirmed commitment to assist in the effective implementation of the EPPO’s functions. Kövesi invited the Bulgarian Justice Minister to visit the EPPO headquarters in Luxembourg.
In a social media post on Thursday afternoon, the EPPO wrote: “Consistency, determination, action. The key words that describe a very productive visit to Bulgaria. This morning, the European Chief Prosecutor had meetings with the Minister of Interior, M. Rashkov, the Minister of Justice, Ms Iordanova, and a courtesy visit to the Prosecutor General, M. Geshev.”