Stanishev asks Barroso to Save him form a Safeguard Clause
By Sega Daily. Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev will call for a political compromise by the European Commission. He insisted on a private lunch with the President of EC Jose Barroso in Brussels. A high-ranking source told Sega Daily that no interpreters, secretaries or advisors will be present at the conversation.
There is a threat of imposing a safeguard clause on Bulgaria because of the ineffective reform in judiciary, the same source informed. January, 9th is the deadline for reporting progress in fight against corruption and organized crime which is to be included in the interim report of EC in the beginning of February.
None of the noted lawsuits followed by Brussels is moving towards a guilty verdict in the coming weeks. The results from the work of the prosecutor's office are also disappointing as the bill of indictment against the former head of Road Infrastructure Fund Veselin Georgiev has also been delayed. He was accused of "non-material damages" although he had commissioned public procurement to the amount of 120 million BGN to interconnected companies in an obvious conflict of interest. Today the government will present the results of the latest external audits by Deloitte and Grant Thornton to the persecutor's office to indicate the extent of damages to the state. His untouchability is one of the reasons for the loss of 220 million euros of PHARE funding for Bulgaria.
Some crucial inspections will take place in January. The head of the EU funds for Bulgaria, Dimitar Ivanovski received a letter from Enlargement Director General Michael Leigh the day before yesterday. Leigh proposes sending a new auditing team on January, 15th and not in the end of the end of the month. This might catch both paying agencies the one in the ministry of finance and the one in the regional ministry, unprepared. Both paying agencies lost their accreditations. They reserved their rights to complete the ongoing projects and 340 million euros are still at stake.
On January, 20th a mission will arrive, sent by the Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hübner. The mission will examine the readiness of the new road agency to put into use the funds allocated by the pre-accession ISPA programme and the Cohesion Fund. 1.1 billion euros depend on its work. The money is only going to be granted when the ones responsible for the previous road fund are punished. "The fact that we have fired the previous staff and served administrative justice is not enough. Brussels wants us not to stop in half the way but to let the perpetrators be prosecuted" a source from the government told Sega Daily.
The check-ups by the head of Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) Franz-Herman Brüner and the European Commissioner on Justice and Security Jacques Barrot are also very important. They can impact the final edition of the February report and make it a reason for the imposing of a safeguard clause. The decision will probably be made in July after the release of the annual report for Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. The deadline for imposing the safeguard clause is the end of 2009.
Prime Minister Stanishev will warn Brussels for the threat of nationalistic spirits and EU skepticism among Bulgarians due to the harsh decisions of EC. "The trend emerging among a lot of Bulgarians is not made up, but it is reflected in public opinion polls and in the internet if you wish" Stanishev said in regard with his up-coming meeting with Barroso. "Bulgaria needs criticism but it also needs support. Bulgarian citizens paid a high price for the membership" he added.