We now have the 2009 report of the European anti-fraud office, OLAF. The report outlines a number of case studies – misuse of Parliamentary expenses by an ex-MEP, embezzlement by the director of an NGO, widespread corruption and fraud in the management of the Global Fund in Uganda, etc. However, one Member State takes central stage in the report – and that is, yes, Bulgaria.
There were 68 active investigations in Bulgaria in 2009 – the most in any Member state for that period. 26 new cases were opened in 2009 in Bulgaria, out of 32 for the whole European Union. This is really extraordinary given the small population and scale of EU structural funding for Bulgaria. The main reason is that OLAF is currently investigating allegations of widespread fraud in the funding of meat-processing plants in Bulgaria under the SAPARD pre-accession funding program. Now, “allegations” does not mean “committed fraud”, but the issue is very worrying. The main issue here will be to distinguish real fraud cases from administrative irregularities. Given the scale of the investigations, they will have a systemic impact on the meat-processing sector in Bulgaria and thousands of jobs.
Posted in Agriculture and Fisheries, Budget and Finance, Bulgaria, Institutional Affairs, Justice and Internal Affairs
Tagged 2009, activity report, anti-fraud, Bulgaria, meat-processing industry, OLAF, SAPARD
The Commission has finally made a proposal on a new regime for the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMO). The Commission proposes to confer to Member States the freedom to allow, restrict or ban the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on part or all of their territory. The general approval of the GMO will still be made on EU level under current rules, but once GMOs are approved, Member States will be able to decide whether to allow the introduction of the GMOs on their territory or not.
After almost 10 years after the adoption of Directive 2001/18/EC the Commission has made a positive step forward for the resolution of this very serious problem. The stalled comitology procedure for the approval of GMOs has been a rare example of systemic institutional failure of the EU (see also the excellent book by Mark Pollack and Gregory Shaffer: When cooperation fails: the international law and politics of genetically modified foods). Now, hopefully, this will change.
Given the fact that both the biotech industry and the environmentalists criticize the proposal, there may be a grain of salt to it.
The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, has launched a public debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the European Union. The debate will focus on the Common Agricultural Policy’s future, objectives, principles and contribution to the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy to inform the preparatory work for the decision-making process.
An independent body will then produce a summary of these contributions. In July 2010, the European Commission will organise a conclusive conference on the public debate. The Commission will present its communication on CAP in the end of 2010.
The European Union will adopt a new graphical logo for organic food. The logo will be obligatory on all pre-packaged organic products that have been produced in any of the EU Member States and meet the necessary standards. It will be optional for imported products.
The winning design is by Dusan Milenkovic, a student from Germany. Here’s the logo layout:
Sometimes reading the Official Journal of the European Union has its benefits. Today we have the Regulation (EU) No 97/2010 entering a name in the register of traditional specialities guaranteed [Pizza Napoletana (TSG)]. What is remarkable about the regulation is the recipe for preparing the pizza napoletana (pp. 10-12). From personal experience I can highly recommend this specialty.