Bulgaria's 'Impatient' Rulers 'Strike Back' over Dutch Schengen Veto

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | September 20, 2012, Thursday // 19:07
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's 'Impatient' Rulers 'Strike Back' over Dutch Schengen Veto Bulgarian MEP Iliyana Ivanova has claimed that the Port of Rotterdam lacks concrete results in the sphere of combating organized crime. Photo by ilianaivanova.eu

After declaring that it has lost patience with the Netherlands over the Dutch veto on Bulgaria’s Schengen accession, the Bulgarian government is now “striking back” through a MEP, the ruling center-right party GERB stated.

In a special statement Thursday, GERB announced that Bulgarian MEP Iliyana Ivanova has leveled serious criticism at the Netherlands.

"The Port of Rotterdam lacks concrete results in the sphere of combating organized crime," a press release published on the Ivanova's website says.

The Bulgarian MEP from center-right ruling party GERB headed the delegation of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee which inspected the Dutch port.

"Today we conducted inspections at the major port of entry to Europe. The reason for the audit was the omissions identified by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) in the customs procedures of the port. According to the ECA report, 31% of the transactions in the non-financial excerpt for 2008 contain mistakes. This leads to serious problems and a possible admission of goods without valid documents to the EU market," the GERB MEP notes.

"The inspections we conducted on the spot revealed that the Netherlands was investing serious money into customs control by purchasing cutting-edge equipment. Unfortunately, my colleagues and I did not receive answers to all of our questions. The authorities in Rotterdam failed to show us concrete information about the results achieved in the fight against smuggling and illegal imports," Ivanova comments.

The audit was carried out on September 19 and included the port administration, the customs office and the functioning of the technical equipment used to detect smuggled goods, human trafficking and radioactive materials.

The MEPs also met with tobacco industry representatives who voiced concern over the increase in smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products in the Netherlands, the press release informs.

Ivanova praises the Dutch authorities for the progress achieved at the Port of Rotterdam but insists that more efforts are needed to improve oversight.

The Bulgarian MEP also comments on corruption among workers at the Port of Rotterdam.

"Corrupt practices are not a rare occurrence at the Port of Rotterdam. The huge flow of goods creates the conditions for this and the evidence is the cocaine trafficking network involving employees of the port busted in July 2012," Ivanova claims.

The delegation of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee will conduct the next audit on September 20 at the Port of Antwerp, "where the European Court of Auditors has also often detected irregularities with the audit systems."

Iliana Ivanova was nominated for member of the European Court of Auditors by the GERB government and will assume office on January 1, 2013.

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Tags: audit, European Court of Auditors, tobacco products, drug trafficking, organized crime, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, GERB, Iliana Ivanova, MEP, Schengen, Schengen Accession, Schengen Area, Schengen Agreement
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