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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

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Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2008 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(98) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(1999) 501 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2000) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1744 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1400 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2003) 676 final - SEC(2003) 1210 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2004) 1199 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005) 1352 - Not published in the Official Journal] Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.05]


In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that Bulgaria had made progress with implementing Community legislation on transport but that rapid alignment on the Community acquis was still necessary. It took the view that the maritime, air and road sectors suffered the most potential problems, particularly as regards safety. Finally, greater emphasis on the practical application of the acquis in the other transport sectors was necessary.

The November 1998 Report noted the progress made since 1997 in some transport modes, but also called for additional efforts to improve administrative structures.

The October 1999 Report noted accelerated progress in implementing the acquis in this area. Nonetheless, major efforts still needed to be made to ensure the effective capacity of the administrative institutions to implement Community provisions, particularly in the field of maritime safety. To this end, enforcement plans, together with an in-depth assessment of the resources and technical assistance required, had to be established.

The November 2000 Report stressed that Bulgaria had made promising progress on aligning its legislation to the acquis. However, further work would be required to complete the alignment process and strengthen the institutional capacities in order to assure compliance. Significant investments in infrastructure would be needed over the coming years.

The November 2001 Report noted an improvement, as the Government had not only adopted the necessary laws to transpose the transport acquis, but had also created the administrative structures necessary to implement and enforce the acquis. Investments in transport infrastructure were increasing.

The October 2002 Report emphasised the progress made with aligning transport legislation on the Community acquis, particularly in the road and rail sectors, including through the adoption of the necessary implementing legislation.

The 2003 Report indicated that Bulgaria had made good progress, especially in the fields of road and maritime transport. Some progress had also been made with aviation, while only limited progress could be reported in relation to inland waterways. The country was continuing to reinforce its administrative structures.

The 2004 Report indicated that Bulgaria had continued to make progress in alignment with the acquis and in establishing the necessary administrative structures, in particular in the fields of road and rail transport; some progress could also be recorded in the area of aviation and maritime transport, while only limited progress could be reported in the area of inland waterways.

The 2005 Report remains positive as regards the development of the legal and administrative framework in Bulgaria in terms of transport. However, the administrative capacity for managing trans-European networks must be further improved. There is still work to be done on transposing the acquis with regard to road and rail transport. Finally, special attention must be paid to inspections of maritime safety standards and implementing provisions on air transport.

The Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005 and accession took place on 1 January 2007.


Community transport policy consists of initiatives in three fundamental areas.

The Europe Agreement provides for harmonisation of Bulgarian legislation with Community law, co-operation aimed at restructuring and modernising transport, improvement of access to the transport market, facilitation of transit and achievement of operating standards comparable with those in the Community. The White Paper focuses on measures for the accomplishment of internal market conditions in the transport sector, including such aspects as competition, legislative harmonisation and standards.


Bulgaria has approved the final report on transport infrastructure needs assessment (TINA) of October 1999 that should form the basis for extending the trans-European networks to that country. On this basis, the Bulgarian authorities have drawn up a transport sector strategy for 2000-2006, which sets out priorities and costs of investments required, in particular in relation to the pan-European transport corridors. A technical agreement on the financing, organisation and design of a second bridge across the Danube between Bulgaria and Romania was finally signed in June 2000.

Various infrastructure projects are being implemented in relation to the trans-European transport network, including the second Danube bridge, the electrification of major railway lines and the construction of a second terminal at Sofia airport. Implementation of the updated Programme for Transport Infrastructure Development (2001-2005) continued through a number of infrastructure and rehabilitation projects on European transport corridors.

In 2003 a Programmes and Projects Coordination Directorate was set up within the Ministry of Transport. This Directorate acts as the implementing agency for ISPA and PHARE transport projects, with the exception of road infrastructure projects, which are managed by the Road Executive Agency, which is also responsible for infrastructure policy and road management.

However, the capacity of the Ministry of Transport to prepare, manage and monitor trans-European network projects is still inadequate in 2005. Bulgaria must endeavour to implement priority projects relating to road, rail and inland waterway transport within the deadlines set.

With regard to land transport, a new Roads Act entered into force in April 2000 regulating ownership, operation, management, construction and repairs of road infrastructure. In the framework of the 1999 Road Traffic Act, a number of secondary acts have been issued over the last year, relating to the acquis on road traffic safety, driver's qualifications, vehicle road worthiness tests, registration and statistics. Road transport administration was reorganised in January 2000. An inter-agency commission on road traffic safety has been established.

Amendments to the Road Transport Law were adopted in 2003, in particular aligning it with the dangerous goods acquis.

A bilateral agreement on transport of goods by road and the promotion of combined transport between Bulgaria and the European Community was signed in July 2000. The Agreement on the International Occasional Carriage of Passengers by Coach and Bus (Interbus Agreement) was ratified in 2002.

With regard to goods transport, the bilateral agreement establishing certain conditions for the carriage of goods by road and the promotion of combined transport entered into force in 2001.

Much of the social and technical acquis on tachographs, admission to the occupation, licensing requirements, driving times and rest periods, roadside inspections and transport of dangerous goods was transposed in 2002. However, this legislation, like social legislation in the road transport sector, has still not been implemented to a sufficient degree in 2005.

On 1 April 2004 Bulgaria introduced a vignette system for collecting charges for the use of Bulgarian road infrastructure. The prices of vignettes for Bulgarian-registered vehicles are significantly lower than those for foreign-registered vehicles at present, but will be gradually aligned.

The second phase of the rail transport restructuring was completed at the end of 1999 with the division and accountancy separation of the "railway infrastructure" enterprise within the State railway company. As part of the third phase of restructuring the sector, a Law has been adopted. This Law, which entered into force in 2002, is the basis for the sector's unbundling and ended the state monopoly on transport of passengers and goods by rail. BDZ (Bulgarian Railways) will become a state-owned joint stock company. It has its own accounts and budget, and prepares its own business plan. The Law also resulted in the creation, in July 2001, of an executive agency answerable to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The executive agency for railway administration is in place as a separate legal entity with budget funding from the Ministry of Transport. It is responsible for all issues relating to infrastructure charges, control of capacity allocation for infrastructure, traffic safety, etc. However, in 2005 the Commission stresses the need to increase the capacity of the rail administrations, particularly the infrastructure manager and the regulatory body.

Bulgaria has adopted an ordinance on the design and construction of railway lines, stations, level crossings and other constituents, contributing to the transposition of the interoperability acquis.

A process of financial restructuring of BDZ, national railway company, and the State Railway Infrastructure Company has been initiated. A new rail infrastructure charging system was adopted in August 2004 aiming at implementing the charging principles laid down in Community legislation. The interoperability Directives were transposed into Bulgarian law in 2004.

Bulgaria has made considerable efforts to align legislation in air transport and adopted eight aviation regulations in 1999. Negotiations between the European Community and Bulgaria on the multilateral agreement to establish a European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) concluded with the signature of a bilateral protocol. In May 2000, the Council of the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) accepted Bulgaria's request to become a candidate member. However, further alignment is required in the fields of air safety, technical harmonisation, market access rules and tariffs. The airline Balkan Airlines is currently awaiting a court ruling related to its liquidation or the choice of a new strategic investor. In total, over 30 acts were adopted in 2001, including an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act and a Regulation on airports and airport procurement. Bulgaria made significant efforts in 2002 to improve the qualifications of aviation administration personnel, particularly inspectors. However, the legislation is still not in force in 2005, so implementing provisions must be adopted.

Bulgaria has made further progress with the establishment of common rules for denied-boarding compensation in scheduled air transport and on aviation personnel licensing. Following the bankruptcy of the national carrier Balkan Airlines, the new state-owned national carrier, Bulgaria Air, has recommenced certain flights.

The Montreal Convention for the unification of rules for international carriage by air entered into force in 2004. Negotiations to include Bulgaria in the ECAA began in 2005.

As regards inland waterways, a Law on maritime spaces, inland waterways and ports was adopted in February 2000.The Law amending the Merchant Shipping Code was adopted in December 2002.

It also establishes a framework for implementation of the acquis on maritime transport, particularly as regards maritime safety. Improving the performance of maritime safety administrative institutions as regards flag State and port State control of vessels must be a priority. In 2001, the percentage of Bulgarian flag vessels detained following port state control improved considerably, but remains higher than the average for EU-flagged vessels. In addition, important secondary legislation needs to be adopted and implemented in relation to maritime safety, including on rules for issuing ship certificates, the carriage of dangerous goods and ship registers. The delay in adopting amendments to the Merchant Shipping Code has slowed further transposition of the acquis.

The "maritime administration" executive agency and the "port administration" executive agency are now in place. The sharp fall in detention rates in 2003 can be attributed to major efforts by Bulgaria to improve its safety record, notably by adopting plans to step up administrative capacity. Thanks to this improvement, Bulgaria moved from the black list to the grey list of the Paris Memorandum in 2005. However, the independence of the Bulgarian administration is not guaranteed since 90% of Bulgarian ships are owned by the State which is therefore both inspector and inspected. A privatisation plan and a strict separation of the roles of inspector and crew should improve the transparency and quality of inspections.

Last updated: 01.02.2006