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Bulgarian civil group launched platform for reporting corruption and misuse of EU funds

Bulgarian civil group launched platform for reporting corruption and misuse of EU funds

The platform democratises access to information about funding management on EU projects, giving citizens the opportunity to report misconduct

Yesterday, the Bulgarian non-governmental organisation Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF) presented a web platform called EUmoney.bg, which gives citizens the opportunity to comment and give anonymous tips for corruption and misuse of EU funding in the country.

The platform is mainly geared towards visible or public infrastructure projects, however, it boasts a library of all past and ongoing EU funded projects in the country. The idea is simple: Anyone who has information on corruption and misuse of EU funds has an easy way to disseminate that information.

The ACF will review the corruption signals and will conduct further investigation when necessary. Furthermore, if they suspect any misappropriation, the ACF will submit corruption reports to the Bulgarian and EU authorities.

EU funds are essential for local governments

Bulgaria is simultaneously the poorest and most corrupt country in the European Union. These two factors make for a delicate situation on a regional level. On the one hand, EU funding to many villages and smaller towns is of key importance, as budgets or public works and social programmes are chronically insufficient. 

At the same time, as poverty levels are so high, especially in smaller settlements, corruption and nepotism are quite common. This prompted the administration to launch a zero-corruption label for local governments, promoting transparency and responsibility towards public funds.

Civil engagement as the best tool against corruption

The Anti-Corruption Fund is an independent expert civilian platform focusing on a practical and effective anti-corruption approach. The Fund provides direct and easy access for any citizen who may have useful information on corrupt practices.

Through the ACF, anyone can file names or anonymously report evidence of corruption backed up by data, facts, and documents. All cases then go through a thorough preliminary corruption check before being passed along to the ACF’s legal team and then to the relevant institutions.

Compared to private whistle-blowers, the ACF has the funds and the expertise to peruse cases and exert sustained pressure on institutions to achieve positive outcomes.

Crowdsourcing anti-corruption

EUmoney.bg allows citizens to search for active projects with European funding in Bulgaria. Projects are listed by name, region, beneficiary or contractor, keyword or criteria. The platform has been up and running for the past few weeks, and according to Lora Georgieva, a legal consultant for the ACF, there are already a couple of corruption signals on, one of which is credible enough to warrant an investigation.

The case is about alleged voter fraud in the village of Valnari. According to the citizen-submitted signal, the mayor of the village exerted pressure on the employees in a local private retail business to vote for a specific candidate in the April 2021 parliamentary elections.

The employees were hired through an unemployment scheme funded through the European Social Fund – Human Resources Development. The information in that case was corroborated by an investigation by Genka Shekerova for the media platform “Free Europe”.

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