The Bulgarian government has parried a thrust from the EU over corruption and organised crime, by saying it is already working on the problem.
The European Commission has frozen around 500 million euros in funding to its newest member after a damning report revealed financial mismanagement.
The government says no ministers will be sacked over the problem.
Foreign Affairs Minister Gergana Grancharova: “It would not help if we would say that this report is
not 100% objective and fair. I will choose another point of view and say that this report marks those spheres in justice and internal affairs, where we have not reached European standards. And I am sure all Bulgarians will agree with that.”
Analysts say the Commission wants to set an example to other candidate countries and reassure voters disenchanted with the bloc’s eastward expansion.
“As soon as Bulgaria has taken the necessary steps to improve financial management and control, the Commission is prepared to reverse this decision.” said a spokesman.
Bulgaria joined the EU in January 2007, along with neighbouring Romania, on the condition that it undertook significant judicial reforms and stamped out corruption and organised crime. Experts say Romania has made progress in these areas, but Bulgaria has not.