Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Plugchieva reports her achievements

Adelina Marini, May 26, 2009

Meglena Plugchieva will present a report for the first year of her work as a special deputy prime minister, responsible for the euro funds. This post has been created especially for the purpose exactly a year ago after a report of OLAF leaked to the media in which there was very detailed information about funds abuse. Special attention in this report was paid to the pan-European group, known as Stoykov-Nikolov. And as the expectations then were that this report would become a basis for the annual report of the Commission and that was to be a precedent, the government had decided to create the post deputy prime minister, responsible for the euro funds and top appoint the by then Bulgarian ambassador to Germany Meglena Plugchieva.

But Plugchieva had been appointed much out of the signed Strategic reference framework for the euro funds in which it is precisely indicated who in the chain and for what is responsible. According to this scheme, several times returned by Brussels and corrected in Bulgaria, which actually led to delay in the absorption of the structural funds, the responsibility for the euro funds have the respective Managing bodies, the Ministry of Finance and the respective institutions in the Commission. Thus a paradox appeared that there was a special post but with no legal sanction.

And during the government reshuffle last year the responsibilities of Ms. Plugchieva have been increased but the results were clear either way - the Commission has frozen almost half a billion of euro from the pre-accession programmes and put under question some of the Structural funds. Recently some 115 mn euro have been unfrozen for the "Lilian" motorway because some problems in the Road Agency have been cleared. With regard to the other pre-accession programme SAPARD though the Commission is still unwilling to unfreeze the money. This became clear yesterday after the meeting between Ms. Plugchieva and the agriculture minister with commissioner Fischer-Boel. The Commission insisted, as well as OLAF, that all data OLAF collects to be used by the prosecutor's office as this is supposed to lead to effective sentences against the Stoykov-Nikolov group. The trial against them is still going on.

The next Commission report is expected in July although there's still no specific date. It will be published a little after the Parliamentary elections which will be held on the 5th of July and probably by the time of publishing the report the negotiations for a new government would have started.