Bulgaria to Lose EUR 248 M in EU Funding for Agriculture
Bulgaria will have to return EUR 248 M to the European Commission under the Rural Development Program 2007-2013, according to Agriculture Minister Desislava Taneva.
In a Tuesday interview for the Bulgarian National Television, she said that EU auditors had sought the imposition of a financial correction worth EUR 24 8 M on Bulgaria over violations in the distribution of EU funds for rural areas and agriculture.
She made clear that over the past few months the Ministry of Agriculture and Food had received a series of reports of the European Commission indicating grave violations in the spending of EU funds under the Rural Development Program 2007-2013 and direct payments to agricultural producers.
Taneva pointed out that one of the reports was final and it requested Bulgaria to return a total of EUR 60 M to the EU budget over public procurement violations in the so-called “municipal measures” under the Rural Development Program.
She specified that these projects were mainly related to investments in repair works and steps to improve the urban environment in smaller settlements.
The Agricultural Minister announced that the fine had also been imposed over irregularities in direct payments to agricultural producers related to the system of land identification.
She said that it was common practice for agricultural owners to declare impossibly large portions of arable land for which they claimed subsidies.
Taneva underscored that the final financial correction had also been imposed due to contracts under the Rural Development Program which had been signed during the term in office of Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov.
“We are included in several other procedures for which sanctions have been sought,” she added.
Taneva explained that only one of the audit reports envisaged a financial correction for Bulgaria of EUR 120 M.
She said that the irregularities were also related to the “municipal measures” under the Rural Development Program and the advance payments under them.
Taneva argued that municipalities were to blame for most of the irregularities.
She said that Bulgaria would contest the financial corrections, adding that the auditors would have the final say.
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