The Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds has presented its regular annual report on the absorption of funds from the EU in 2010. Bulgaria had used an average of 10.01 % of the funds allocated to the country under the operational programs of the European Union. The report was presented by the chair of the committee Monica Panayotova. The meeting was attended by the National Assembly Chair Tsetska Tsacheva, the Ambassadors of Hungary and Spain - Judith Lang and Rafael Peydro and by the Belgian Embassy’s Charge D’Affaires Katherine Reymakers, by the Bulgarian Minister on EU funds Tomislav Donchev and by the Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology Alexander Tsvetkov.
Monica Panayotova noted that overall the country has made progress in 2010 in the management and absorption of EU funds. In this period Euro 601 M have reached the Bulgarian beneficiaries and another Euro 1 B were contracted. The payments for last year under “Regional Development” operational program have increased six folds and by 1.8% in the contractual phase. As successful program the report notes the “Administrative Capacity “ OP where there was a considerable increase in payments. The payments under OP “Human Resources Development” were defined as satisfactory but in need of improvement, while the negotiated funds under the same program did better. In 2010 some 6000 unemployed were retrained with money under this program.
The programs “Transportation” and “Technical Assistance” were assessed as performing well on the financial implementation side but less so on the contractual phase. The report points out as worst the implementation of OP “Competitiveness of Bulgarian Economy “and “Environment”. The two programs have been considerably delayed, but measures are undertaken to speed them up in 2011, noted Panayotova. She reported the improvements in the legislation related to public procurement and to the administrative burden reduction. She emphasized the need to introduce uniformity in the application documents and the way of reporting on the performance of the projects and reduce further bureaucracy. She went on to propose the introduction of electronic application procedures and implementation reporting. The report stresses the need for adoption of special law to cover all issues with regards to EU funds absorption.
Meglena Plugchieva of Coalition for Bulgaria pointed to the discrepancies between the figures shown in the report of the Committee and those of Brussels. She recalled a letter, received from the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, on 13 December 2010, in which the latter states that Bulgaria absorbs just six percent of the money, allocated to it, with programs “Transport” and “Environment” being the most in a rear.
The Hungarian Ambassador Judith Lang explained that one of the goals of the EU Hungarian Presidency is to work out a common policy of the member countries aimed at increasing competitiveness and cooperation in Europe. The Spanish Ambassador Rafael Pedro , whose country is considered the best performer in view of EU funds absorption, advised the Bulgarian parliament and the cabinet: “to not miss the train as this is an opportunity that history provides once” .