Bulgaria loses €520m EU funds(Kerin Hope, Theodor Troev, www.ft.com, 26.11.2008)
Bulgaria has lost €520m ($677m) of European Union funding for failing to crack down on fraud and corruption among officials appointed by the Socialist-led coalition government, the first time the European Commission has stripped a member state of funds in this way.
The EC said on Tuesday it would not renew the accreditation of two government agencies responsible for disbursing EU funds which have been under investigation by Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud agency.
As a result Bulgaria – the EU’s poorest member-state – will lose €220m of pre-accession funding that still had to be allocated. The government will have to use funds from the budget to cover another €300m worth of contracts that were frozen by the Commission last July because of suspected fraud.
“This is a blow to the government’s credibility as well as a serious loss to the economy at a time when banks are cutting back on lending,” said Ivo Kostov, a Sofia-based consultant.
Bulgaria was last month rated the EU’s most corrupt member state, falling below Romania in Transparency International’s latest global index of corruption perceptions.
The government pledged to clean up its poor record on high-level corruption and organised crime after the Commission issued a scathing report in July and threatened to withhold almost €1bn of funds unless progress was made.
Meglena Plugchieva, a member of Bulgaria’s negotiating team for EU membership, was appointed deputy prime minister with a brief to eliminate graft. She has produced an action plan to counter administrative corruption.
But a Commission spokesperson said on Tuesday that “most measures taken are only a promise of future actions and have not yet delivered concrete results”.
Mrs Plugchieva called the Commission’s decision “disappointing”. She said: “The administration made tremendous efforts in the past six months. But we will continue to work … to protect the interests of Bulgarian and European taxpayers.”
EC officials have said Bulgaria’s weak judicial system is another obstacle to progress.
A former head of the road-building agency, which lost its EU accreditation, was convicted on Monday of soliciting a bribe in an EU-backed project. He received a 12-month suspended sentence, while a more junior official was sentenced to five years in jail.
Блогът на Мартин Осиковски
26 ноември 2008
Загубите на България на практика възлизат на половин, а не на четвърт милиард евро (вж. долу). Няма нищо по-неразбираемо от това, че на републиканския бюджет ще бъдат поверени проекти, които не могат да бъдат финансирани по европейски програми поради явно наличие на корупционни практики.
етикети: антибългарски кампании