Bulgaria's Biggest Parties Clash over EU FundsDomestic | January 23, 2017, Monday // 17:36| views
Outgoing cabinet ministers, L to R: Temenuzhka Petkova (energy), Ivelina Vasileva (environment), Lilyana Pavlova (regional development). Photo: GIS
Ministers from the biggest party in Bulgaria's outgoing government lashed out at the leading opposition force on Monday after the latter alleged the European Commission planned to freeze millions worth of funding allocated to the country.
Their comments followed an official announcement from EU Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu, who used Twitter to downplay the socialist opposition's claims.
At an emergency briefing of the cabinet, three outgoing ministers - of regional development, energy, and environment - reiterated that Bulgaria ranks as one of the most successful countries by absorption of funding.
Bulgaria has been made fun of three times as the EU Commission has refuted the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)'s claims of problems with absorption, Regional Development Minister in resignation Lilyana Pavlova is quoted as saying in a press statement.
All three ministers gave accounts on transactions recently made by their institutions and other developments, including payments to foreign-owned thermal power plants and energy consumption during the winter.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov also slammed BSP lawmakers, arguing they seek to "prepare the society" for a scenario of EU funding being frozen if they form a government after the snap election.
"The European Commission has said outright there is no stoppage of funding... from now they are preparing public opinion [to think] that if this happens, it will be our fault."
Since Borisov's government resigned in November, Bulgaria has been in an unofficial election campaign, with his GERB party and the BSP trading barbs and damaging allegations for more than two months.
A snap election, however, is not due before the end of March.
The absorption of EU funding, which has aided the growth of Bulgaria's economy for years, has been one of the milestones of GERB's two unfinished government terms, with Borisov arguing his cabinets create the stability needed for the proper use of cohesion and regional development money.