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22nd Jan 2022

Bulgarian minister's daughter, accordion club get EU farm aid

  • "It certainly looks weird," a commission official said about the accordion payment (Photo: emilydickinsonridesabmx)

The daughter of a former Bulgarian minister appears to have received €700,000 in EU aid last year. Notable sums were also paid to an accordion club and a billiard club.

Galina Dimitrova Peicheva-Miteva, the 27-year-old daughter of Dimitar Peichev, Bulgaria's deputy agriculture minister until July 2009, who was responsible for handling EU funds, got €700,000 from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) last year, according to the Danish and British-based pro-transparency NGO Farmsubsidy.org.

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Ms Peicheva-Miteva owns a number of trading firms, some of which involve her father and mother, but took the EU money as a private person, making her Bulgaria's largest individual CAP beneficiary.

Commenting on the case, an EU commission official said: "That would be a case for the Bulgarian authorities to look at, or, at a push, [EU anti-fraud agency] Olaf. If she's got a load of land, there may be nothing wrong with it. But it's more a problem of potential conflict of interest for [her father] the junior minister."

The detail came up after Farmsubsidy.org, a group of journalists and computer specialists, trawled government websites of the 27 EU countries over the past two days, a regular exercise ever since an EU law in 2008 forced capitals to reveal who gets what out of the €55 billion a year farm pot.

Other curious beneficiaries include a Swedish accordion club that won €59,585 from the EU farming programme; a Danish billiards club with €31,515; an Estonian school almuni society on €44,884; and the Netherland's Schiphol Airport with €98,864.

"If you look closely at the [EU] wording, the CAP also includes money for development. But at a time when we are starting to have a serious debate about the future of the policy, we should ask whether farm money should really be going to music clubs and airports," Danish journalist and Framsubsidy.org co-founder Brigitte Alfter told EUobserver.

In what may involve cases of people who died after qualifying for aid, CAP payments were made to two 100-year-old Swedes who are now deceased, as well as to one 14-year-old Swedish child.

The EU also made a series of payments of less than €1. "It is assumed that the costs of administering such modest aid payments vastly exceeds [their] face value," the NGO said in a statement.

At the other end of the scale, Farmsubsidy.org's preliminary studies show that grants of €1 million or more were made to 1,212 entities, compared to a total of 1,040 "farm subsidy millionaires" in 2008.

Most of the "millionaires" were in Germany and France. Banana producers in French overseas territories, sugar companies and dairy firms led the league of big-time winners, on the back of EU sugar and dairy sector reforms.

The NGO noted that some countries - Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia - obfuscated research by publishing the figures in a hard-to-use format that required special software.

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