European Commission (EC) has decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) for failing to implement EU railway safety legislation.

The Commission stated that it will refer Bulgaria to court due to its failure to transpose and implement Directive 2004/49/EC.

The EU directive requires all member states to form an independent investigation body to carry out rail accident probes.

The body must be completely independent in its organisation, legal structure and decision-making from any railway undertaking in the respective country as well as from any party whose interests could conflict with its work.

EC also noted that Bulgaria has no proper legislative mandate ensuring that all investigations related to rail accidents and similar incidents are to be carried out by an independent body.

The time-limit for the transposition of the 2004 directive expired on 30 April 2006.

“In October 2017, EC issued a reasoned opinion requesting that Bulgaria correctly implement the directive. However, Bulgaria again failed to take appropriate legislative steps.”

In October 2017, EC issued a reasoned opinion requesting that Bulgaria correctly implement the directive. However, Bulgaria again failed to take appropriate legislative steps to establish the investigation body, following which the Commission decided to refer the case to court.

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The Directive 2004/49/EC is devised by the EU to establish a common regulatory structure among the member states for the management and supervision of railway safety.

All member states need to ensure that investigations of rail incidents be carried out by an independent permanent body. The body should include at least one investigator capable of performing the function of investigator–in–charge.

Last week, the EC sent a series of objections over the proposed Siemens-Alstom rail merger, which is feared to reduce competition in the rolling stock and rail component market.

EC is already carrying out a full-length investigation into the deal and is expected to complete it by January.