The country score for Bulgaria on the criterion “transparency of lobbying” is dramatically low – Bulgaria’s score is only 13%.
The current legislation in place in Bulgaria does not refer to or use the term “lobbying”. There is no public register of lobbying activities, and the public does not have knowledge of who is lobbying whom, on what issues, when and how they are being lobbied. Moreover, information on how much money is being spent in the process as well as the results of lobbying efforts is not published or made publicly available. There are no requirements for public officials to report on meetings with lobbyists, nor are there any requirements for proactive publication of public officials’ and ministers’ calendars. The concept of a legislative footprint, which details the time, person and subject of a legislator’s contact with a stakeholder, has not been adopted.
Unpacking the results – why does Bulgaria do so badly?
The study assesses the transparency of lobbying activity using the following indicators:
- Access to information: 50%
- Registration and disclosure by lobbyists: 0%
- Oversight of register and sanctions: 0%
- Legislative footprint: 0%
A general trend towards improving publicity in the work of state bodies in Bulgaria can be observed. Nevertheless, transparency is still a standard that is yet to be met. This is especially true regarding the processes of interests’ representation and lobbying.
Plenary sessions and committee sittings in parliament are generally open to the public. Individual citizens have access to the parliamentary sessions and committee meetings following the regime of access to the National Assembly. This regime however remains largely in the discretion of the chairperson of the respective committee. If representatives of CSOs, trade unions, professional and industries’ associations request so, they may attend permanent committee meetings. They may also submit written opinions on draft bills to the rapporteur committee. The rapporteur committee has the obligation to include a summary of the written opinions received. These opinions are delivered in the report for the first reading in plenary of the bill under consideration. There are explicit requirements to publish the agenda three days prior to committee sittings.
However, there is no legal requirement for MPs to disclose the information consultations regarding proposed amendments to legislative bills under review in parliament. There is no lobbying regulation.
Nor is there a register of lobbyists, which means that the public does not have knowledge of who is lobbying whom. Nor does the public know on what issues lobbying is taking place, or when and how it is occurring. Moreover, not publicized is how much money is being spent in the process of lobbying or what the results of lobbying efforts are.
The instrument of a legislative footprint which would detail the time, person and subject of a legislator’s contact with a stakeholder has not been adopted. Published as an annex to legislative reports, it could potentially provide insight into who gave input into draft legislation.