A sharply critical report adopted by the European Parliament on April 3 2014 calls on the European Commission to “seriously examine whether it is even possible for EU funds to be deployed in accordance with the rules” in Bulgaria.
The comment was made in a report by the European Parliament’s budget committee on the use of the EU budget for 2012 and the recommendation has no binding value, but coming a few months before Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections, is certain to be a political football.
The report welcomed what it called the “clear statements” by the European Commission in its January 22 progress report on Bulgaria in regard to implementation of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which was put in place in 2007 to bring Bulgaria up to EU standards in justice and home affairs.
The committee’s report expressed deep concern about Bulgaria’s lack of progress under the Cooperation and Verificaiton Mechanism “and about the persistently high prevalence of corruption and general difficulty observed there (Bulgaria) in assigning responsibilities and correcting errors”.
The European Commission should adopt a “resolute attitude” to Bulgaria “and to seriously examine whether it is even possible for Union funds to be deployed in accordance with the rules in such an environment”.
The report, presented by rapporteur Markus Pieper MEP, names Bulgaria in a number of other areas of criticism.
It expresses regret that the Court of Auditors identified weaknesses in the supervisory and control systems of France, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania for rural development and that the three elements audited were affected by deficiencies: i.e. the administrative and control systems to ensure correct payment, the control systems based on physical on-the-spot checks, and systems to ensure implementation and control of cross-compliance;
It “noted with concern” that the most important weakness detected by the Court of Auditors this year concerned ineffective checks of compliance with procurement rules which were apparent in Sweden, Germany (Brandenburg and Berlin), Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, and that overall the audit detected more than nine million euro of ineligible expenditure resulting from the non-respect of the procurement rules;
The report also expressed “disappointment” at the fact that the Court of Auditors found serious deficiencies in the implementation of the reinforcement-of-assurance procedure in four of the five member states which applied this new procedure: Bulgaria and Romania for European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and Luxembourg and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) for European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF).
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)