BULGARIA HOPES FOR MORE FUNDS FROM SAPARD
Bulgaria will try to get greater financial support within the framework of the EU agricultural assistance programme SAPARD after the first wave for EU enlargement to the east, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Andriyana Tosheva announced on April 25. Under the memorandum with Brussels, the country now receives about EUR53MN annually. The financial framework for assisting the EU candidate-members in the period till the year 2006 was worked out in a document, called Plan 2000. Ten of the candidate-countries are expected to be invited in end-2002 to join the EU as full-fledged members. Thus, they will get access to the structural fund for the promotion of agriculture, which is the major financial instrument of the common agricultural policy of the 15 EU members. If Bulgaria is not among the invited countries, it could hold negotiations for getting the financial assistance, intended for some of the new EU members. In the words of Ms. Tosheva, Poland and Hungary have not at all begun utilizing funds from SAPARD.A day earlier the European Commission approved six new measures from Bulgaria's national programme under SAPARD. The Agriculture Ministry hopes that by the year-end the EC will finance more projects, worked out by private companies, farmers, and municipalities. Bulgaria has proposed that the establishment of wholesale markets for agricultural products should be subsidized. Companies with less than 25% state participation may also apply for such financing. The projects should be worth between EUR100,000 and EUR6MN. Projects for vocational training of agricultural producers are to be financed, too. So far the State budget and the SAPARD programme were co-financing projects for investments in private farms, processing and marketing of agricultural products, and creation of alternative incomes in farming.