Bulgaria, EC clash brewing on EU funds management – report

The European Commission has asked Bulgaria to streamline its EU funds management, a request that the government in Sofia does not appear willing to grant, news website Mediapool.bg reported.

To the point, the EC has asked that Bulgaria sets up a single body to oversee EU funds management, replacing the several existing units that are part of different ministries, as well as a dedicated EU funds portfolio in the cabinet.

The request was made in a letter from the European Commission that also expressed concerns about the risk that Bulgaria could lose 272 million euro worth of funding in the current programme period, Mediapool said, quoting the socialist chairperson of Parliament’s EU funds committee, Mladen Chervenyakov.

But according to Deputy Prime Minister Zinaida Zlatanova, whose portfolio includes co-ordination of all EU funds related activities, among other duties, setting up a single EU funds management agency for the next funding period, 2014 to 2020, would create too many “shake-ups in the system”, the report said.

Bulgaria’s previous two governments, that of the socialist-led tripartite coalition in 2005-09 and the centre-right GERB cabinet in 2009-13, had dedicated ministers in charge of EU funds – socialist Meglena Plugchieva and Tomislav Donchev, respectively. Both have tried to centralise the EU payment agencies in one body, but failed because of political lobby efforts and the opposition of the civil service, Mediapool said.

Zlatanova said that Bulgaria would inevitably lose some of its EU funding, the second time she has made statements to that end in the past two months. “There is no point in lying to ourselves. Yes, Bulgaria will lose money this year and next year. We will not be able to use all 100 per cent of the money, not even 90 per cent of it,” she was quoted as saying.

Bulgaria last had EU funds frozen in 2008, at the time of another socialist-led cabinet – the man currently sitting in the prime minister’s chair, Plamen Oresharski, was finance minister then – because of allegations of mismanagement and numerous delays in calls for projects.

(Photo: M van den Dobbelsteen/sxc.hu) 



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