EU unblocks farm aid funds for Bulgaria


The European Commission announced Monday that it was to unblock millions of euros in agriculture funds for Bulgaria which had been frozen over concerns about fraud, AFP reports.

The move to open up the so-called SAPARD funds came after EU member Bulgaria implemented an action plan to address concerns about the use of the farm aid.
“The three main measures in SAPARD were blocked last year and now they’ve put in place, over the last few months, the action plan in order to allow us to free up that money,” a commission agricultural affairs spokesman said.

He told reporters than 19 million euros (27 million dollars) “will now be freed up immediately”, once some “procedural steps” had been completed.
A further 90 million euros in potential subsidies also remain available and the spokesman, Michael Mann, said that Sofia would have until the end of the year to apply for the money, or lose it.

Bulgaria’s Farming Fund distributes EU pre-accession subsidies to farmers but it has struggled to clean up its record since corruption and fraud concerns prompted the commission to block some 121 million euros in farm aid.

The European Commission froze a total of 825 million euros in pre-accession aid to Bulgaria last year and subsequently axed 220 million euros of it.
Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 as its poorest member and has been dogged by charges of corruption since.

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