843 mn is Bulgaria's contribution to the EU budget so far
Adelina Marini, 26 May 2009
Bulgaria has received 2 bn and over 600 mn euro from all possible programmes of the EU by May 2009. Instead, Bulgaria has contributed to the EU budget from the beginning of its membership on the 1st of January 2007 until the 30th of April 843 mn euro, the deputy prime minister, responsible for the EU funds Meglena Plugchieva reported. She said that, with no embarrassment at all, because Bulgaria is in pre-election situation and many people are trying to exercise with different figures to show that Bulgaria has become a net donor of the Union. Ms. Plugchieva made this clarification during the annual report of her work since been appointed a deputy prime minister responsible for the EU funds just a year ago.
The pre-accession programme PHARE, directed to various activities, related to the development of administrative capacity and regional development, the EU has frozen some 50 mn euro. The overall budget of the programme is 1 bn and 480 mn euro. The programme is over but still the responsible agencies work hard to oversee the implementation of the projects. Because of the frozen money the government, after a request from the deputy prime minister, approved the payment of 100 mn levs (50 mn euro) to all conscientious beneficiaries, whatever that means.
The agriculture pre-accession programme SAPARD is with overall budget of 591 mn euro and the deadline of this programme was supposed to end in December 2008 but has been prolonged till the end of 2009 because of Bulgaria's promises to deal with all irregularities. There is 22 mn euro frozen from this programme and that is why the government decided to grant another 100 mn for the beneficiaries that have no irregularities. It is expected that another audit report is presented after which the Commission might agree to unblock some 148 mn euro. With regard to the auditing of foreign companies which became a tradition in the last year. Ms. Plugchieva confessed that quite a lot of money have been paid to those companies with no clear effect of their work.
The third pre-accession programme is ISPA from which there is also frozen money. The overall budget of the programme which is from 2000 until 2010, is 1,603 mn euro. This programme helps only the spheres of transport and environment. On the 12th of May this year the Commission has unblocked 115 mn euro. Tomorrow in Bulgaria is expected the director general Dirk Aner and in the middle of June - commissioner Danuta Hubner. Her visit and the news it will cause will happen in the middle of the Parliamentary elections campaign which will be held on the 5th of July.
With regard to the operative programmes, which are 7 for Bulgaria and are being paid from the EU 2007-2013 Financial perspectives, there are contracts for 1,200 mn euro, according to Plugchieva's report for all the 7 programmes. This data is for the period until May 2009.
There's a serious delay with the Programme for regional development which is part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Under this programme Bulgaria is to absorb a little over 3 bn levs or some 1.5 bn euro until 2013. Plugchieva said that the delay is due to the fact that the administration is overloaded. She criticised it though for the prolongation of the analysis of the projects which, she added, is due to the surprise the administration experienced after it turned out, that most beneficiaries have been too well prepared.
For the first annual report of Ms. Plugchieva the ambassadors of the member states have been invited. Among them - the Czech Martin Clepetko whose country now presides the EU and the French - Etienne de Poncins. But they left long before the long presentation was over.
Plugchieva also asked the media to be accurate with their reports with regard to the EU funds because, especially during election campaign, the truth is often abused. She also said that soon she will take a vacation to participate actively in the campaign.