Victims' rights: Commission decides to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully transpose the Victims' Rights Directive

Today, the European Commission decided to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to communicate the measures transposing into national legislation the Victims' Rights' Directive. The deadline for Member States to transpose the Directive was 16 November 2015. 

In January 2016, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria for failing to transpose and communicate the transposition measures to the Commission within the deadline. In March 2019, the Commission followed up with a reasoned opinion as Bulgaria had not communicated full transposition.

Following numerous exchanges with the Bulgarian authorities since 2019 and taking into account the most recent replies from Bulgaria, the Commission has decided to refer that Member State to the Court of Justice of the European Union, as two provisions of the Victims' Rights Directive still have not been transposed into Bulgarian legislation.

Since the case concerns the failure to communicate transposition measures of a legislative directive, the Commission will ask the Court of Justice of the European Union to impose financial sanctions on Bulgaria.


The Victims' Rights' Directive is the most important EU level instrument applicable to all victims of crime. The Directive entered into application in 2015. Since that time, the Directive brought a positive impact on victims' rights to access information and improved victims' access to support services.

The objective of the Directive is to ensure that all victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and are able to participate in criminal proceedings. According to the Directive, victims shall be recognised and treated in a respectful, sensitive, tailored, professional and non-discriminatory manner by all actors coming into contact with them. Special attention should be paid to victims with specific needs in view of protecting them from secondary victimisation, retaliation and intimidation. Such victims shall also have access to specialised support services and to special protection measures.

In 2019, the Commission had 25 open infringement procedures against the Member States for incomplete transposition of the Victims' Rights Directive. As of November 2023, all infringements, have been closed except for Bulgaria.

For More Information

2012 Victims Rights Directive

2023 Amending Directive

EU measures protecting victims' rights

Infringement decisions database

EU infringement procedure

Link to November 2023 infringements package

Infringement decision (INFR(2016)0023)