On 2 April 2020, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers adopted an entirely new Code of Conduct of Civil Servants in the State Administration (the “Code”), which replaces the existing one in force since 2004.
The adoption of the Code is part of the State Administration's Development Strategy that aims to prevent corruption and reflect new higher standards and expectations for the behaviour of state employees. The Code comes into force on the 8 May 2020.
The new Code expands the catalogue of principles for the conduct of civil servants in the state administration and gives legal definition to each principle in order to facilitate their interpretation and application. Specifically, the conduct of the civil servants will be based on the principles of legality, loyalty, conscientiousness, impartiality, equality, responsibility, political neutrality, integrity, confidentiality, accountability, collegiality and courtesy. Civil servants will be expected to follow these principles in their dealings with citizens, legal persons and other organisations and to provide them with all the information necessary for the protection of their rights and interests. Civil servants will be obliged to inform all natural and legal persons about the possibility of appeal in cases of infringements committed by the administration or about the refusal of any administrative service.
Significantly, Chapter Four of the Code lists rules for anti-corrupt conduct in order to address and prevent cases of state corruption. As part of these rules, civil servants should not allow themselves to be placed in a position of economic or other dependency, and should not request or accept presents, services, money or benefits that may affect the performance of their professional duties.
In addition, civil servants should not accept presents or benefits:
- for the performance of work that falls within their professional duties;
- for activity outside the field of their competence;
- to exercise influence in the decision-making of other officials; or
- to be an intermediary on behalf of another person for the performance or lack of performance of a professional duty.
Furthermore, civil servants are obliged to report to the respective authority any information they may know about corruption or conflict of interest in the administration in which they work.
Civil servants are also obliged to respect the Code and the legislation outside of their workplace, including when using information and communication technologies. In case of non-compliance with the Code, civil servants will be subject to disciplinary liability according to the provisions of the Civil Servants Act or the Labour Code.
For more information on the new Code and its implications on your business, contact your regular CMS source or local CMS experts Assen Georgiev and Anna Tanova.
The article is co-authored by Kalina Krastanova.