When the head of the Bulgarian roads agency was forced to resign in February after handing contracts worth €50 million (£40 million) to his brother, it confirmed the worst fears of those who doubted the country’s suitability for EU membership.
Corruption and organised crime seem endemic in the Black Sea state, which stands to gain ¤11 billion in development funds from Brussels over the next seven years after being allowed to join last year.
But despite repeated promises from the Socialist Government of Sergei Stanishev to guarantee financial and legal probity, patience is wearing thin among fellow EU members. Since 2000 Bulgaria has had 150 mafia-style killings but not one conviction.
Лишени от "добри чувства" са и три припомняния на редакцията в края на интервюто:
- Between 2001-06 150 people were killed in Sofia, the capital. Victims included Bulgaria's top banker, a football company boss and one of its top importers
- This year the EU froze subsidies of more than £79 million over bribery in the construction of a motorway
- By March the EU's investigating agency had 45 cases of alleged malpractice in Bulgaria on its books