Friday, 15 May 2009

EU Stops Funding Poor Bulgaria Due To Corruption

It has been know for a very long time that Bulgaria is full of corruption. Creaming fund that was given from the EU is also known, but nothing is done about it because the power that the corrupt cartel have are far too great for any politician to deal with. It really doesn't help when a lot of that corruption is from Bulgarian political circles anyway so it is not in their interests to tamp it out.

In the meantime the EU, who has a duty to support the poverty stricken farming industry in Bulgaria has its hand tied. Homegrown corruption is strangling Bulgaria. It is a tendency for Bulgarian to accept that this is how it is here, they too are 'hands tied' to do anything about it and just try and get on with things the best they can. They know that complaining is a waste of energy in Bulgaria as this extract displays.

FOR a man facing the threat of bankruptcy in six months’ time, thanks to European Union sanctions on his country, Stefan Petrov has pretty warm words for Brussels. Mr Petrov is a dairy farmer from the rolling hills of northern Bulgaria. Two-and-a-half years after his country joined the EU, his business is in peril after €800m ($1.1 billion) in transitional aid for new members, including farm aid, was frozen by the European Commission last year, amid complaints about fraud, contract-padding and conflicts of interest. About €220m of the frozen money has been lost for ever, after a deadline for spending the cash expired in November. The pot of €110m that includes Mr Petrov’s grant is due to expire at the end of this year. Yet the farmer does not quarrel with the logic of the decision to freeze Bulgaria’s aid, which is the toughest sanction ever imposed on any EU member. “Those who govern us tried to steal the funds, and partly succeeded,” says Mr Petrov, when asked why the European money was blocked. The EU, he insists, is “good for farmers”.

The fate of EU funds has become a big political issue in Bulgaria, which will hold a general election in July, a month after the election of a new European Parliament. Although the current Socialist-led government trumpeted the release of €115m in EU road cash on May 12th, much more money remains frozen. Opposition leaders such as Boyko Borisov—an ex-wrestler and police chief who now serves as mayor of Sofia—say that government corruption gave Brussels “no choice” but to impose sanctions. Mr Borisov, whose party leads in the polls, offers few concrete plans for cleaning up the system, but he makes such stirring promises as “we will do what it takes for Europe to approve of us.” Mr Borisov also notes the “paradox” that Bulgarians’ trust in European institutions “actually increased when the money was frozen”.

Back on the farm, Mr Petrov signals that his patience is not infinite. The freezing of EU funds was the “right” sanction, he admits. But the EU should think of another way of delivering money, he says, bypassing the government in Sofia if need be. A local mayor says 50 of his neighbours are in the same boat at Mr Petrov. The road to the nearest town was going to be fixed with funds that are now frozen, the mayor adds: yet locals still trust the EU.

The next wave of EU spending planned for Bulgaria adds up to more than €10 billion. If that money flows smoothly, EU popularity should not be a problem. But if Bulgarian corruption forces Brussels to freeze even bigger sums, plausible political consequences could range from a reformist revolution to a slide into nationalism. EU enlargement was always something of an experiment: it may be poised to enter uncharted territory.

Extract And Picture from
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