Economic Policy Review ISSN 1313 - 0544

EXAMPLE FROM BULGARIA: EU Money and the Roma inclusion

Author: Peter Ganev / 08.08.2008
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How is the EU money spent? The efforts to integrate the Roma in Bulgaria during recent years give a very good answer to this question. During the last 10-15 years a lot of State organizations, international organizations and associations have tackled this problem. All sorts of programs and projects, related to Roma people, have been financed with State, European and private money. This is gives us a very good foundation to assess how effectively the public funds have been spent.

During the period 1994-2007 in Bulgaria has been financing projects and programs directed towards the Roma population at a total value of almost €70 million. The funds have been provided through several basic channels: the PHARE program; national co-financing (from the budget); the National Council for Co-operation on Ethnic and Demographic questions; The UN programs for development; Institute "Open society"; the Democratic commission with the US Embassy; the World Bank; The Trust for civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe ("CEE Trust"); Roma Education Fund - Hungary.


The review of all these programs clearly indicates the following:

One can find complete transparency on all projects of the Institute "Open Society", the Democratic commission with the US Embassy, the "CEE Trust" and the Roma Education Fund - Hungary.  These donors have provided approximately €5 million (less than 10% of all the money provided for such projects in the country), however all the projects are directed entirely towards results and a lot of good examples and practices can be found. Even the names of the students who got stipends from these programs are available. However even in these programs one can find bad projects - in other words money spent without effect, but these projects are clearly indicated by the organizations themselves,

As for the public money (in other words the European and national) its concerns are very different. The PHARE program has provided €50 million and to those one should add automatically €12 million national co-financing. Practically, these funds are more than ten times those mentioned above and still it is difficult to find who has achieved better results!? Transparency and accountability, which exist with the above donors, are lacking completely when spending public money. The few positive things which could be found in these programs are related to putting the funds to use, but not in the results of these respective programs and projects. The only benefit from most programs is the salaries, which have been paid for work on specific projects, but not on the results from them.

It is clear that the European money is being spent for the spending itself. The objective is to put them to use and to spend them on whatever. As Milton Freedman said: "if you spend someone else's money on someone else, you are neither very concerned about how much is spent or how it is spent."