On November 8, the European Commission announced it has decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to correctly transpose and implement EU legislation on railway safety (Directive 2004/49/EC). This Directive asks Member States to establish an independent safety authority and an independent accident and incident investigation body.
The Directive requires Member States to establish an investigating body which is independent in its organisation, legal structure and decision-making from any railway undertaking, infrastructure manager, charging body, allocation body and notified body, and more generally from any party whose interests could conflict with the tasks entrusted to the investigating body.
Bulgaria has failed to fully transpose and implement the Directive at national level in this regard.
According to the EC, the Bulgarian legislation does not guarantee that investigations of serious rail accidents and incidents are performed by an independent investigating body.
The time-limit for the transposition of the Directive expired on 30 April 2006 and the Commission had already requested Bulgaria to transpose and correctly implement Directive 2004/49/EC through a reasoned opinion in October 2017, which says that Bulgaria has to bring all its national rules in line with EU law on railway safety under the Directive. At that time, Bulgaria failed to ensure the independence of investigating body and to give it sufficient resources. Bulgaria has been given two months to remedy the situation.