Brussels says Bulgaria still lags with EU funds absorption

In its first five months in office, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Government has paid more monies under the EU’s operational programmes than its predecessor did in two and a half years.

However, the European Commission (EC) is still not satisfied with pace of absorption of European financing, the Commission’s director-general for regional policy DG Dirk Ahner said in a letter to Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov, received on January 13.

The Commission voices concerns about a delay in signing a number of agreements as well as low absorption under five operational programmes, the Government said.

Lilyana Pavlova, Deputy Regional Development Minister in charge of the respective operational programme, said that the Commission had requested bimonthly updates on progress in the implementation of operational programmes as well as applied solutions.

Former deputy prime minister in charge of EU funds absorption Meglena Plougchieva, now an MP for the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), declined to comment on the letter, saying that she was not familiar with the text.

She said that she would ask that the document be discussed by the European affairs parliamentary committee.

By the end of 2009, Bulgaria has paid out close to 208 million euro put together under the seven operational programmes.

More than 106 million euro was paid in the five months in office of Borissov’s Cabinet, according to Finance Ministry figures.

Still, Bulgaria has absorbed a marginal 2.6 per cent of the allocation over the past three years.

Between 2007 and 2013, the country should absorb 6.673 million euro provided under the EU’s EU Structural and Cohesion funds.

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