(29 August 2013) – The European Commission strongly denied yesterday media reports that EU funds, allocated to Bulgaria and Romania to help improve the situation of their Roma, would be re-directed to Germany, where many members of the minority have moved.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle recently reported that millions of euros earmarked for the poor in Bulgaria and Romania will be redirected to Germany. This, it said, was due to the fact that these relatively new EU member states were “unable to utilize them”, and also because of the flow of Romanians and Bulgarians into Germany.
However, the Commission denied the reports in the strongest terms. “It is not true. There is no transfer of structural funds that have been allocated to Bulgaria and Romania to other countries,” Jonathan Todd, spokesperson for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner László Andor told EurActiv.
Todd explained that allocations of these funds for EU countries are set once every seven years to be handed out with the EU’s long-term budget. If EU countries do not spend all the structural funds that had been allocated to them, the money remains in the EU budget but is not re-allocated to other countries, he said.
“However, this is not currently the case – neither Bulgaria nor Romania have lost any structural fund money for tackling poverty or anything else,” Andor’s spokesperson insisted. Todd added that the use of EU structural funds available to Germany was a decision for the German authorities. Therefore, they could potentially allocate some of their share to support social inclusion in cities which faced the greatest challenges from so-called ‘poverty migration’. Todd gave as an example the case of North Rhine-Westphalia, which plans with the Federal Government to mix €7.5 million of EU structural funds into regional and federal level social funding to integrate Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants into Germany.
According to Deutsche Welle, 70,000 nationals of Bulgaria and Romania have settled in Germany over the year, and next year their number is expected to rise to 170,000. From 1 January 2014, citizens from these two EU countries will be granted full access to the EU job market. (With EurActiv)