Language of document :

Action brought on 18 January 2019 — European Commission v Republic of Bulgaria

(Case C-33/19)

Language of the case: Bulgarian


Applicant: European Commission (represented by C. Georgieva-Kecsmar and J. Hottiaux)

Defendant: Republic of Bulgaria

Form of order sought

The Commission claims that the Court should:

Declare that Bulgaria has failed to fulfil its obligations in accordance with Article 21 of Directive 2004/49/EC 1 as follows:

by failing to ensure the independence of the specialised investigation unit from the infrastructure manager, Bulgaria failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 21(1) of Directive 2004/49/ЕC;

by failing to ensure sufficient resources for the specialised investigation unit in order for it to carry out its functions independently, Bulgaria failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 21(2) of Directive 2004/49/ЕC;

Order the Republic of Bulgaria to pay the costs of the proceedings.

Pleas in law and main arguments

1.    Under Article 21 of Directive 2004/49/ЕC, Member States must ensure that investigations of accidents and incidents referred to in Article 19 are conducted by a permanent body, which is to comprise at least one investigator able to perform the function of investigator-in-charge in the event of an accident or incident. This body is to be independent in its organisation, legal structure and decision-making from any infrastructure manager, railway undertaking, charging body, allocation body and notified body, and from any party whose interests could conflict with the tasks entrusted to the investigating body. It is furthermore to be functionally independent from the safety authority and from any regulator of railways.

2.    In its application, the Commission maintains that the specialised unit for investigation of accidents and incidents set up under the Ministry of Transport, is not independent from the infrastructure manager — the national company ‘Zhelezoputna infrastruktura’. More specifically, the unit lacks decision-making autonomy. In that regard, the Republic of Bulgaria has failed to comply with the provisions of Article 21(1) of Directive 2004/49/ЕC.

3.    In its application, the Commission also submits that the legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria does not ensure access to sufficient resources for the specialised unit to be able to carry out its functions independently, in accordance with Article 21(2) of Directive 2004/49/ЕC.


1 Directive 2004/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on safety on the Community's railways and amending Council Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings and Directive 2001/14/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification (Railway Safety Directive)

OJ 2004, L 164, p. 44.