Interview I took from Sir Graham Watson, President of the liberal ALDE party, 7 May 2013, Brussels.
The European Parliament Civil Liberties LIBE committee will vote today (7 May) to decide what follow up the European Parliament and the EU in general should decide on the unfolding eavesdropping scandal in Bulgaria, which was dubbed by the foreign press “the Bulgarian Watergate”. This is happening just before the early parliamentary elections on 12 May. What is your comment?
Clearly, with allegations like this surfacing during an election campaign, the European Commission is going to be reluctant to intervene for fear of being seen to take sides in such an election campaign. There is in any case, as the Commission points out, an issue to be dealt by national authorities.
However, I share the concerns of many in Europe from all political parties at some of the developments in Bulgaria of which this is a part. Whether there is truth in these allegations or not, the fact that so many people believe that it could be, is already a sign of big concern about recent developments in Bulgaria.
Do you think that the Commission has been too gentle with Borissov’s government overall?
I think the Commission has been too gentle with his government on some areas in particular. I think there could have be more done in the pressure for judicial report, there could have been certainly more done in the pressure for greater drawdown on European funding, on wiser spending, and I think perhaps in the area of energy, of electricity, the initial cause of some of those riots.
It’s easy with hindsight to look back and say: more could be done. But the Commission needs the support of the member states. And member states themselves have to take a more active role in policing what is happening on each other’s territory.
The slogan of the GERB campaign is “We have [good] will”. It is taken from the Commission reports who said that. They actually didn’t see progress, but “good will”.
Well, good will is like motherhood or apple pie. It sounds great, but it needs to be backed up with action.