EC Threatens to Permanently Suspend Environmental Payments to Bulgaria

Bulgaria in EU | February 13, 2014, Thursday // 16:22|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

The European Commission has officially notified Bulgaria that it may permanently suspend payments under the "Environment" Operational Program.

Bulgaria's funding under the "Environment" Operational Program was temporarily frozen in November.

Shirin Wheeler, spokesperson of the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, explained at a press conference on Thursday that Bulgarian authorities had been sent a warning letter on Wednesday.

"This means, technically speaking, that a decision could be taken in the next few months to stop payments, unless a satisfactory decision is taken on the problems identified by the EC with the operational program. They are mostly related to tenders, oversight and management. Bulgarian audit authorities acknowledge the existence of these problems and we see them as reliable authorities with which we can work," Wheeler said, as cited by the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).

She informed that the case involved a sum of EUR 182 M.

She explained that if they were suspended, payments could only be restored with a decision of the College of Commissioners.

"It is very important that this does not turn into a political football. You know that some of the problematic projects date back to a number of years ago, while others are more recent. You must not place the blame with this or that political party. We are working on the problems and we believe that we will be able to solve them in the next few months and the payments will be restored," Wheeler stated.

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Tags: European Commission, Operational Program Environment, EU funding, Regional Policy Commissioner, frozen EU funds


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