The European Commission is to send a new technical mission to Bulgaria in January to assess the progress made in addressing irregularities in the management of EU funding.
This was announced by Michael Leigh, the Commission’s director general for enlargement, said during a visit to Sofia on Monday.
Leigh acknowledged that there has been some progress since the appointment of Meglena Plugchieva, deputy prime minister for European Union funding.
However, he underlined that time is needed to see whether tightened controls have led to any practical results.
Sofia has already irretrievably lost some €220 million of EU funds after Brussels refused to lift a suspension of payment imposed in July because of concerns about Bulgaria’s ability to manage the money correctly, with the deadline to use it expiring on November 30.
Brussels has also threatened to cut more of the frozen aid, as well as some of the €11 billion in funds earmarked to be handed to Bulgaria by 2013.
Bulgaria’s government, dumbfounded by the money cut and Brussels’ sharp-edged tone, lashed back that it was not receiving equal treatment from the Commission.