Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The Bulgarian prime minister made 2 confessions after the European Council

Adelina Marini, June 22, 2009

The Bulgarian prime minister Sergey Stanishev, in a pre-election mood, praised his government twice in the framework of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, by saying that the Commission has unblocked the money for the programmes "Transport" and 'regional development", frozen last year because of the uncovered conflict of interests in the road agency. AT a press conference through a video connection from Brussels, the prime minister announced that the Commission has given its consent 1 bn and 250 mn lv (641 mn euro) to be available after it received guarantees that "The road agency is fully transformed and this is a reason for the Commission to withdraw its reservations". This is what the Commission writes in a letter to the government, said Stanishev. The news here is, in fact, that the government for the first time confessed that this money has really been blocked until all irregularities and potential risks of conflicts of interests in the transformed road agency are being removed.

An expert from the Commission, quoted by the "Dnevnik" daily explained that Brussels will not start paying the european money until all necessary procedures are completed. According to the newspaper, the decision of the Commission means that Bulgaria now can start concluding the contracts. Asked by euinside to define more precisely what exactly happened, the prime minister said: "I understand the interpretation of the "Dnevnik" daily, but the Commission has withdrawn its reservations. In other words - unfroze the money for 2 programmes of the EU. This was an obstacle for many months for new projects but now the whole process is being cleared which is extremely important and everyone should be happy about it".

The second confession Mr. Stanishev made was that Bulgaria had not been included in the financial perspectives of the EU for the period 2007-2013 - a fact, ardently denied. The Bulgarian prime minister made this confession while announcing that the president of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has supported Bulgaria's wish to receive compensations for the closing of the 3rd and 4th blocks of the "Kozlodui" nuclear power station beyond 2009. As Bulgaria was not a member of the EU in 2005 when the budget of the Union was being negotiated, the agreed compensations covered only the period until 2009. In 2005 Bulgaria completed the accession negotiations during the Irish Presidency and succeeded in agreeing a little over than 4 bn euro until 2009. A little later the money for Bulgaria had been increased from the Cohesion and Structural funds. And the compensations for the nuclear power station was 550 mn euro. According to the Bulgarian prime minister, there is enough money in the budget of the Union and Barroso had assured Mr. Stanishev that there will be a review of the budget and will be decided whether the compensations will be prolonged, the prime minister explained.

In the meantime, while the review of the financial perspectives is being made, it will also analyse how each member state is spending the money from the European funds. If a country has not managed to spend most of the funds, then the budget for the country would be diminished and the money transferred to other countries or other activities.