EC denies rift with Bulgaria on EU funds management – report

The European Commission has denied that it was at odds with Bulgarian authorities on the issue of how Sofia should manage its EU funds allocation, Bulgarian daily Sega said on September 16.

Last week, reports in Bulgarian media said that a highly-critical letter from the EC asked Bulgaria to set up a single EU funds payment agency to streamline the process, as well as designate a dedicated EU funds portfolio in the Cabinet.

The issue was discussed in Parliament on September 13 during Question Time, with the leader of the socialist party Sergei Stanishev throwing his support for the reported changes demanded in the letter sent by regional policy commissioner Johannes Hahn.

But the spokesperson for Hahn, Shirin Wheeler, was quoted by Sega as saying that the Commission did not ask for a single payments agency, nor was the issue discussed with the government in Sofia. Instead, the EC wanted uniform procedures concerning the application and payments process across the existing agencies, as well as better co-ordination between the different bodies handling EU money in Bulgaria.

The issues would be discussed during Hahn’s upcoming visit to Sofia at the end of September, Wheeler was quoted as saying.

Bulgaria stands to lose at least 272 million euro in funding allocated for the current programme period, which expires at the end of 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Zinaida Zlatanova, whose portfolio includes co-ordination of all EU funds related activities, was quoted as saying last week, because there was not enough time left to screen applicants and allocate the money.

(Photo: Päivi Tiittanen)



The Sofia Globe staff

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