Bulgaria argues it is ready to absorb EU farm funds

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria is ready to absorb European Union farm funds and sees no reason for Brussels’s sanctions over lack of progress in agricultural reforms, Farm Minister Nihat Kabil said yesterday. The EU, which Bulgaria joined in January, has warned Sofia it may lose part of over -11 billion in funds, including farm subsidies, it is set to receive through 2013 over concerns of corruption and maladministration. Sofia is entitled to get some -6 billion only for the agriculture sector in developing its rural areas, the fishing sector and in direct payments from the European Union in the next seven years. Kabil told Reuters in an interview there were no grounds to cut farm payments, because the Balkan country was implementing all requirements on absorbing the money and would be ready to handle fund inflows by the middle of August. «We have learnt from our mistakes, we have experience already… If there is a decision for reduction of EU farm subsidies, it will be entirely politically motivated and not because we are not prepared,» Kabil said. «My position is that Bulgaria should not suffer any sanctions and face any cut in subsidies.»