The independence of the judiciary and media freedom in Bulgaria were debated with the Council and the Commission on Wednesday. Whilst some MEPs argued that the EU has a duty to ensure that all member states respect the principles of freedom and democracy, others countered that this was a domestic issue and that the European Parliament is not the place to run a national election campaign.
Several MEPs condemned the 19 January assault on Ahmed Dogan, leader of Bulgaria's Movement for Rights and Freedoms, adding that attempts were then made to play down the incident. They underlined that the Bulgarian judiciary must be strengthened and made more independent.
Other MEPs countered that this was an internal affair, and that the independence of the judiciary is something on which the country has been working to ensure. The European Parliament is no place for a national election campaign, they added.
The quality of the democracy in each member state is a European issue. The EU has a duty to ensure that all its member states respect EU values, argued some MEPs, stressing that the debate was not about singling out Bulgaria for criticism, but in its interests.
You can watch the plenary debate via Video on Demand (link on the right).