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Bulgaria Expected to Refund Another EUR 28.7 Mln of Guesthouse Money

The European Commission expects Bulgaria to refund another 28.7 million euro of the EU budget money it has received for co-financing the building of guesthouses. The news was reported by Christina Borchmann of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development during a hearing at the European Parliament (EP) Committee on Budgetary Control on Monday.
Borchmann said this is the last portion of the money which Bulgaria has been expected to refund in this sphere. The Bulgarian authorities themselves decided not to apply for EU aid for such projects from the new EU budget until 2027, she noted. Twenty-one checks in 10 EU member states show that Bulgaria is the country where wrongdoing affecting guesthouse construction money is most widely suspected, Borchmann said.
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) Director General Ville Itala said that out of 746 guesthouses in Bulgaria co-funded with over 103 million euro, 377 were inspected and none of them was found to achieve the standard objectives of diversifying the region’s economy and creating jobs. According to Itala, the Bulgarian authorities checked 288 guesthouse projects and detected malpractices in 253 of them (88 per cent).
It was recommended that the EU money invested in 158 such projects be refunded in full, Itala said. A total of 456 guesthouses remained unchecked as the relevant deadlines expired.
European People’s Party representatives in the EP Budgetary Control Committee described the case of the Bulgarian guesthouses as awful. On behalf of the Socialists and Democrats, Tsvetelina Penkova called for redress and noted that no one has been found guilty yet.
According to the Greens, the guesthouse report is devastating.
Andrey Novakov (EPP/GERB) described the information as disturbing and expressed his expectation that those who knowingly misused EU aid and have been brought to justice will bear due responsibility. “Such shameful acts make the image of a whole country,” Novakov said. He urged the European Commission and OLAF to work out methods for early detection of irregularities.