Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

ENCORE!

Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Kerry holds all-night talks with Afghan presidential rivals

    Read more

  • Netanyahu resists international pressure to stop air strikes on Gaza

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Italy’s Trentin wins seventh stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • In pictures: Chanel, Dior and so much more at the Paris couture shows

    Read more

EU freezes Bulgarian funds over corruption

©

Latest update : 2008-07-23

The European Commission condemned Bulgaria for its failure to tackle corruption and bad management of EU funds, and said it has frozen hundreds of millions of euro in aid money. Opposition MP Maria Cappone told FRANCE 24 that "Bulgaria must change".

BRUSSELS - The European Commission issued a scathing indictment of corruption in Bulgaria on Wednesday, suspending aid worth hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) and barring two key payments agencies from receiving EU funds.

 

A report on the management of European Union funds by the latest and poorest EU member said the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime was not producing results and the Commission had to act to protect taxpayers' money.

 

"Therefore, the Commission has taken the decision today to formalise this suspension (of pre-accession aid) and withdraw the accreditataion for two government agencies in charge of managing these pre-accession funds," chief Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told a news conference.

 

The two reports on Bulgaria -- one on funds and the other on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime -- were the harshest criticism ever levelled by Brussels at a member state, EU officials said.

 

Analysts said the Commission was trying to set an example to other Balkan candidate countries and to reassure voters disenchanted with the 27-nation bloc's eastward enlargement.

 

"Reform of the judiciary and law enforcement structures is necessary and long overdue," the Commission said. "The fight against high-level corruption and organised crime is not producing results."

 

Unlike fellow Black Sea newcomer Romania, criticised in a separate report on judicial reform, Bulgaria, which also joined in January 2007, was subjected to financial sanctions.

 

But the EU executive softened the blow at the last minute by toning down the tougher wording of earlier drafts and omitting a threat to delay Bulgaria's entry into the euro single currency zone and the Schengen area of passport-free travel.

 

And the reports were presented to the media by low-profile spokesmen rather than Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso or any other political-level representative.

 

"MORAL DAMAGES"

 

Laitenberger gave no overall figure for the suspended funds, but Commission spokesman Mark Gray quoted amounts that add up to 486 million euros ($764.6 million).

 

Those funds are mainly for the PHARE technical assistance programme for acceding countries, the ISPA road-building agency and the SAPARD agricultural marketing scheme.

 

In the case of PHARE, unless the payments agencies are reformed sufficiently and recover their accreditation by the end of November, a total of 556 million euros will be lost definitively, officials said.

 

The report did credit Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev's government with progress, notably in setting up a State Agency for National Security to fight corruption and organised crime, and closing duty-free shops and petrol stations that were a focus of criminal activity.

 

However, Bulgaria's rightist opposition asked parliament to hold a vote of no-confidence against the Socialist-led government, accusing it of failure to stop fraud with EU funds.

 

The vote, the sixth against the government, is unlikely to topple the three-party coalition which has an overwhelming majority in parliament, but could further dent its eroding popularity ahead of 2009 elections, commentators said.

 

"The government has caused material and moral damages to Bulgaria and its citizens because of loss of money from the European funds," the no-confidence motion said.

 

Some opposition parties threatened to boycott parliament's work if the government survives the no-confidence vote, expected to take place in the chamber next week.

 

Conservative members of the European Parliament applauded the decision to block some EU funds for Bulgaria.

 

German Christian Democrat Elmar Brok said the situation had deteriorated in both Romania and Bulgaria since they joined the 27-nation bloc and this was "the only way to ensure the credibility of the EU enlargement process".

Date created : 2008-07-23

Comments

COMMENT(S)