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Bulgaria and Romania

Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking to support the European Union in reducing corruption and organised crime in (a) Bulgaria and (b) Romania. (114020)

The EU accession process has encouraged and supported the Bulgarian and Romanian Governments to tackle corruption and organised crime, but there remain serious challenges in both countries. The Commission and the Government continue to follow and support both Governments’ continuing actions. Bulgaria and Romania are now key partners in the fight against organised crime. UK law enforcement agencies work closely with their Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts. Co-operation is excellent and we are providing specific assistance in a number of areas.

In Bulgaria, a senior Metropolitan police officer has been providing assistance in co-ordinating projects across a number of law enforcement strands. These projects, which range from training Bulgarian law enforcement agencies in homicide investigation techniques to the establishment of a National Crime Prevention Council, involve personnel from a number of UK Departments and agencies. In addition, Crown agents have assisted with comprehensive reform of the Bulgarian customs.

In Romania, the Government have supported a number of projects designed to tackle organised crime, including an initiative to assist the Romanian police in implementing the European Criminal Intelligence Model. The Government are providing assistance in the development of Project REFLEX, a highly successful multi-agency taskforce dedicated to tackling organised immigration crime which has already brought tangible benefits to the UK and Romania. We are also assisting the Romanian authorities in their fight against corruption through the secondment of a UK expert to work as the Romanian President’s anti-corruption adviser.