Bulgaria is singled out as the EU’s most corrupt country by Transparency International.
It’s viewed as making little progress towards stamping out graft and organised crime.
Sofia’s faced repeated criticism from the European Commission for failing to prosecute and sentence allegedly corrupt officials.
Bulgarians have been left with a sour taste.
“As far as the government is concerned there are surely good old boys network companies, which provide an opportunity to make money out of them,” one Bulgarian told Euronews.
Taking up the rotating presidency of the EU is a first for Bulgaria, since joining the bloc in 2007.
One former prime minister told Euronews that the country badly needs external support.
“The EU has all the possibilities to advise us and in fact we had judges and instructors coming from some of the countries to help us. But all this must be done in a normal legal consequential way and not sounding the alarm or something,” said Simeon de Saxe-Coburg.
According to Transparency International, Bulgaria has made some progress in the fight against petty corruption, but it says high-level corruption has worsened.
“What’s needed is an adequate reform and to pursue the reforms within the public administration, the reform of the judiciary system must also be pursued. Those are the main areas where we should focus our efforts,” commented Vanya Nusheva, from Transparency International Bulgaria.
The EU’s throwing Bulgaria into the spotlight for six months – a chance for Sofia to show that it’s rooting out the bad, and is reforming for the good.