CENTRE OF GOVERNMENT PROFILE
[As at May 1998]
|The Government||The Government
The following officials participate ex officio in the meetings of the Bulgarian Council of Ministers: the Prime Minister, the ministers, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, the Head of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, the Head of Chancellery, the Head of the Legal Department, the Head of the Local Administration and Regional Policy Department, the Head of the Department for Structural Reform and the Head of the Governmental Information Service. The meetings of the Council of Ministers are chaired by the Prime Minister. A representative of the President has the right to attend meetings of the Council of Ministers.
In case of absence, the Prime Minister is replaced by a Vice Prime Minister. In case of absence of a minister, he/she is replaced by a vice-minister who does not have the right to vote.
Heads of committees, vice-ministers and heads of departments of ministries (civil servants) can be invited to participate in Council of Ministers meetings. They participate as experts to provide information on certain issues and usually attend only a part of the meeting.
Meetings are usually held once every week on Mondays, according to Government Decree 166/1996.
According to Decree 287/1997, the Council of Ministers holds special monthly meetings on European integration.
The agenda is drawn up by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers. Topics on the agenda are usually based on ministerial proposals. Some topics are put on the agenda only after consultation between the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister. The agenda is expected to be approved by all ministers before submission to the Council of Ministers.
|The preparation of submissions
Only ministers can submit proposals to the Council of Ministers. If the head of a non-ministerial central government structure (such as, committees and councils) wishes to submit a proposal to the Council of Ministers, he/she has to pass this proposal to the Council of Ministers through a minister.
Ministerial proposals must be sent to the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers at least a week before they are discussed by the Council of Ministers. Ministries should ensure that a certain number of formal requirements are fulfilled before they submit a proposal to the Council of Ministers. Formal requirements can include revisions by expert groups, consultations with other ministries concerned, statements, etc. The Minister of Finance must give a formal statement in writing on each issue which has financial implications. The Minister of Justice must give a formal statement in writing on legal compatibility. This applies to decisions of a higher legal order (e.g. laws, decrees) only. Ministerial proposals should reflect the outcome of the above consultations. The fulfilment of these formal requirements allows for the agenda to be drawn up on a consensual basis.
The process of drawing up ministerial proposals is regulated by the Rules on the Structure and Organisation of the Work of the Council of Ministers, which are in the process of being amended. More detailed provision on the procedure for the preparation and adoption of different legal instruments will be included in the new Regulatory Instruments Act, to be adopted.
The government takes decisions by a majority of votes. In practice, ministers come to decisions without voting by consensus.
According to Decree 166/1996 and instructions in writing by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, proposals submitted to the Council of Ministers have to be put in the following format:
Proposals generally must be circulated in advance. Proposals can be submitted during the meeting as an exception, but only after the permission of the Prime Minister has been obtained. However, this practise is becoming less acceptable.
(1) If not available, these statements must be added before the session of the Council of Ministers, but after the submission of the proposal.
|The preparation of decisions
Informal meetings between members of the Council of Ministers play an important role in the decision-making process. Their function is to prepare the meetings of the Council of Ministers and to resolve problems over proposed agenda items in advance of the meeting of the Council of Ministers. Informal meetings are usually held several times a week. They are chaired by the Prime Minister. The Vice Prime Ministers, the Minister of Public Administration, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, the Head of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and the Head of the Governmental Information Service are permanent members. Ministers, politicians and civil servants can be invited.
Currently these informal meetings are held based on custom and practice. In near future the status and functioning of these meetings will be regulated.
During the informal meetings final decisions can be taken in relation to certain matters. The meetings can result in a decision to reject that a topic be put on the Council of Ministers' agenda. Suggestions can be made to put additional topics on the agenda of the Council of Ministers meeting.
If an informal meeting cannot resolve a conflict, the Prime Minister creates a working group to find a solution. Such working groups can only suggest a solution and cannot make a final decision.
|Decision making and recording
The Council of Ministers generally decides by consensus. The wording of decisions is laid down in writing by the chairperson.
As a first step in the process of developing the record of the meeting, the minutes of the meeting are prepared within 24 hours of the meeting, in practice on the same day. The minutes (protocol) include a listing of the agenda items and the decisions as formulated by the chairperson. The minister(s) responsible for implementation is/are also designated.
Generally the time frame for the implementation of laws and decrees is included in the concluding provisions of individual laws and decrees, not in the minutes of the meeting. Deadlines in relation to Council of Ministers decisions are included in the minutes, since these decisions are not published in a different form.
Budgetary implications are decided with the Law on the Budget. The Currency Board mechanism operating in Bulgaria does not allow for discretion. Ministerial budgets are fixed.
Explanatory memoranda for the media are drawn up for each Council of Ministers' agenda item.
A report on the monitoring of the implementation can be either included in the minutes or in the final provisions of the laws and decrees.
Apart from the minutes of the government meeting, containing a record of the main decisions made, a stenographic transcription of the meetings is also made. The stenographic transcription is produced several days after the meeting, signed by the Head of the Chancellery Department and kept for the government records.
The minutes of the meeting are sent to the ministries only, usually within a few days after the meeting.
Laws, decrees and other legally binding decisions are published in the State Gazette, usually within a few days, but at least within two weeks after the final decision has been taken by the competent institution. All drafts of laws prepared by the government are discussed at sessions of the Council of Ministers and next submitted to the National Assembly to be approved.
Other types of government decisions recorded in the protocol, which are usually short term assignments to ministers, are not published in the State Gazette.
Currently no procedures are in place to monitor the implementation of laws, decrees and decisions, except for ensuring that acts are finalised and published. The task of monitoring and co-ordination of implementation has been transferred temporarily to the ministries. However, an electronic monitoring system is in the process of being installed, which will allow the Council of Ministers to exercise centralised control over the implementation of legislation.
The Council of Ministers can intervene if decisions are not properly implemented. Problems are discussed at the informal meetings described above.
The Prime Minister can and does require ministries and other bodies to report on the status of implementation.
|Legislative and regulatory procedures
Each line ministry is responsible for drafting its own legislation.
The Legislative Council at the Ministry of Justice and European Integration and the Legal Department at the Council of Ministers are responsible for reviewing draft legislation, regulations, decrees etc., in order to verify their appropriateness, constitutional validity, and compatibility with existing texts.
Budgetary implications are part of the explanatory memorandum included in the proposal to the Council of Ministers, drafted by the individual ministries. This is a general analysis giving a rough estimate of the impact of the proposal. The Ministry of Finance also writes a rough impact analysis which is included in its statement. The Legislative Council carries out a compliance control on compatibility with EU law.
|Subordinate bodies of the Council of Ministers
There are no formal sub-councils of the Council of Ministers, but there are informal meetings in which specific problems are discussed. The formal status of these meetings will be regulated in the near future. There are two commissions that support the Council of Ministers and can be considered as sub-councils of the Council of Ministers - The Council of Structural Reform and The Council of Education, Science, Culture, Health and Social Reform. They are chaired by Vice Prime Ministers and ministers participate ex officio.
As regards subordinate bodies, the present Government, in power since 22 May 1997, commissioned an inventory of all state bodies subordinated to the Council of Ministers. As a result of the analysis some 100 bodies subordinated to the Council of Ministers were identified. These bodies had been created according to various procedures and had a varying accountability relations to the Council of Ministers.
Following the completion of the analysis, which is part of the new administrative reform strategy, two processes have been set in movement to rationalise the position and mode of operation of these structures:
It is therefore not useful at this time to list them.
|Support and advisory structures
Departments of the Council of Ministers:
All these departments have administrative support functions.
The Prime Minister, the Vice Prime Ministers and the Minster for Public Administration, who all operate within the framework of the Council of Ministers, are each supported by a cabinet. Cabinets are generally small (a staff of minimum 3 to maximum 7 experts) and have both expert (apolitical) and political advisory functions.
|Sectoral units ("mirroring" policy
Specialised units to advise the Prime Minister on strategy have not yet been created, but it is expected that one such unit will be created as an aspect of the implementation of the Law on (Structures of Public) Administration.
The Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers is responsible for the co-ordination of all administrative units within the Council of Ministers.
|Senior staff and advisors to the Head of Government
There is a distinction between permanent, non-political and political staff. However, this distinction is based on practice rather than on clearly defined rules. Permanent staff and politically appointed staff work together to advise the Prime Minister and the Vice Prime Ministers, but, depending on the issue, politically appointed advisors also give separate advice. The top administrative and political officials have equal access to the Head of Government. Advice is given to the Head of Government by experts from the ministries and the governmental institutions.
|FOR FURTHER INFORMATION||Mrs. Zlatina Nikolova
Head of Chancellery Department
Dondukov Blvd 1
Tel. (359-2) 981 4964
Fax: (359-2) 88 27 26