Bulgaria Can Count on More EU Money after 2014 - Commissioner

Bulgaria Can Count on More EU Money after 2014 - Commissioner

Bulgaria can count on a 10-15% increase in the monies from EU funds after 2014, it emerged after the European Commission approved late on Wednesday a proposal for the EU budget 2014-2020.

"Bulgaria is expected to receive a 10-15% increase compared to what we have today," Bulgarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva told the Bulgarian National Radio.

"It will be extremely important in the next 18 months, when the negotiations over the budget are running, that we prove our preparedness to absorb funds so that these preliminary figures become a reality," she added.

The European Commission proposes to streamline faster the levels of agricultural subsidies in the old and new member states, which according to Commissioner Georgieva can boost direct payments to Bulgarian farmers by 70%.

A total of 30% of the money, however, will be granted only on condition that the farmers develop organic agriculture.

The European Commission proposed late on Wednesday that the European Union increase its budget by 5%, defying the demand of Germany, the United Kingdom and France for a budget freeze.

The bombshell proposal covers the period 2014 to 2020 and negotiations over it are expected to run well into next year.

EU spending is negotiated in seven-year cycles and the commission's plans would set the EU budget between 2014 and 2020 at one trillion euros.

Under the plans, about EUR 376 B would go to boosting underdeveloped areas of the EU and another EUR 372 B to support the region's farmers.

"This is an extremely serious, credible proposal, and to say 'no' to something which was only adopted two or three hours ago is not serious or credible," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"I'm really surprised that some can say no before they have read the proposal," he said at a news conference with Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski.

However, the budget was given an initial welcome by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, who called it an "intelligent starting point" for negotiations. The parliament has long called for a significant increase.

In addition to the budget, the commission is looking to change the way in which the EU gets its money - including a EU-wide VAT and a tax on financial transactions.

The proposals drew immediately the ire of the United Kingdom, one of the five biggest contributors to the EU's budget, which have urged a freeze on spending in real terms on the backdrop of austerity drives by a number of EU nations and the economic crisis in Greece.

"[The proposal is] completely unrealistic," a UK government spokesman said.

"It is too large, not the restrained budget they claim and incompatible with the tough decisions being taken in countries across Europe," he added. (Source: Sofia News Agency)

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