On 21 December 2006, the Commission issued Regulation (EC) N° 1962/2006 in application of Article 37 of the Act of Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union (OJ L 408, 30.12.2006, p. 8). The Commission thereby withholds the benefit of mutual recognition of certificates issued by the Bulgarian Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) as provided for in Regulation (EC) N° 1592/2002 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Following the signature of the Treaty of Accession on 25 April 2005, the Bulgarian CAA was inspected several times by both EASA and the JAA. Those inspections revealed shortcomings in its administrative capacity.

A monitoring report on the state of preparedness for EU Membership of Bulgaria and Romania of 26 September 2006 (COM (2006) 549 Final) mentioned “serious deficiencies” which lead the JAA to refuse Bulgaria’s mutual recognition within the JAA system in relevant safety areas, namely airworthiness, maintenance, operations and flight crew licensing. The monitoring report called on Bulgaria to submit a corrective action plan.

Follow-up inspections by EASA at the end of November 2006 caused the Commission to rule that the Bulgarian CAA was not in a position to ensure compliance with Regulation (EC) N° 1592/2002. The Commission finds that this could distort competition in the common market as Bulgarian carriers would have unrestricted access to the common market without fulfilling all safety requirements. The exclusion of Bulgarian carriers from the benefits of the common market is intended to be temporary. Regulation (EC) N° 1962/2006 provides that the Commission will review the application of the measures imposed either at the request from Bulgaria or on its own initiative, at least every 12 months. In the short term experts are carrying out another investigation of the Bulgarian CAA, the results of which will be evaluated in February 2007.