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#Anti-Corruption Front of #Bulgaria investigates financial abuse by Bulgarian MEPs

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The Bulgarian investigation organisation “Anti-Corruption Front” announces its investigation into financial misuse of European funds by Bulgarian MEPs.

In the form of a documentary we present recordings from a hidden camera, documents and facts about the illegal spending of the budgets by MEPs Elena Yoncheva and Ivo Hristov of funds intended for local assistants and offices. The financial damages to the Bulgarian and European taxpayers amounts to almost 250 000 EUR.

In the video you will see evidence of local assistants holding double positions both in the European Parliament and at the BSP headquarters, which is absolutely forbidden by the regulations of the European institutions.

You will hear comments from the assistants of the MEPs, their service providers, including Ivan Garelov, and the editor-in-chief of the leading European media EU Reporter Colin Stevens and others.

The documentary is the first part of a large-scale investigation into the abuses of high-ranking politicians in Europe and Bulgaria. All data and facts that have become available to the Anti-Corruption Front team are described in a signal that will be submitted to OLAF, the European Court of Auditors, the President and Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament and the chairs of parliamentary groups.

Bulgaria

EU Cohesion policy: Commission supports the development of the Bulgarian research and innovation ecosystem

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On 14 January, the Commission published a set of strategic recommendations to 14 newly created research and innovation (R&I) centres, co-funded by the EU Cohesion policy in Bulgaria. The recommendations aim at improving the management and helping the centres reach financial sustainability. They were elaborated by a team of internationally renowned experts during 1.5-year-long fieldwork, coordinated by the Joint Research Centre, as well as through exchanges with peers from Spain, Lithuania and Czechia.

They will support the Bulgarian authorities and researchers in strengthening the country's R&I ecosystem, building up capacity for transfer and dissemination of knowledge, and strengthening the cooperation between research institutions and businesses in areas like green and digital transitions as well as in advanced medicine. Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (pictured) said: “Thanks to EU support, these Centres will provide scientific infrastructure and equipment, making them attractive for young Bulgarian researchers. I urge all actors involved to make use of the experts' work, laying the ground for an efficient and modern research and innovation system.”

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “The EU's investment in the 14 Centres of Competence and Centres of Excellence has a great potential for transformation of the country's economy and its integration in Global Value Chains. I am confident that the findings of the JRC report will be well received by the Centres, and that the government, academia and industry stakeholders will take action to promptly implement its recommendations.”

The initiative has been launched in 2019 and will be extended to other European countries. The Commission is also assisting Member States and regions in designing and implementing their smart specialisation strategies and through the smart specialisation platform. The EU is currently investing €160 million in the centres, in the framework of the 2014-2020 Bulgarian ‘Science and Education for Smart Growth' programme. In 2021-2027 Bulgaria will receive more than €10 billion under Cohesion policy, with a substantial part dedicated to supporting innovation and competitiveness and green and digital transitions.

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Bulgaria

Huawei and Sofia University to co-operate in AI and other new high-end technologies

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Huawei Technologies Bulgaria EOOD signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski recently. Both parties will co-operate in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other new high-end technologies. Besides, they also agree to conduct an Huawei ICT Academy programme and to develop a joint scientific laboratory at the Sofia University.

Both parties will establish joint engagement on future, funded by EU and other AI, R&D and commercial projects. They will build the ICT infrastructure for, Sofia University in general and specialized AI labs jointly.

Cooperation will include not only R&D and Infrastructure project, but will also include education, trainings and workshops for students, academic societies and industries in Bulgaria.

Rector Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov pointed out that, with the Universities for Science, Informatics and Technologies in eSociety (UNITe) and the Institute Big Data for Smart Society (GATE), Sofia University. St. Kliment Ohridski is a leading research centre in the field of information technology and artificial intelligence. Gerdjikov expressed satisfaction with the signed memorandum and expected the co-operation to be useful for researchers and students at Sofia University.

Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, Rector of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

The mission of the university is to develop the scientific, educational and cultural potential of Bulgaria, whereby the new emphasis is on creating models for social development both by revealing the intrinsic ability of institutional change and the social results of such a change. The Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (FMI), one of the biggest among sixteen Sofia University faculties, is a national leader in the field of higher education in Mathematics, Computer Science and ICT, as well as a center for research in the same areas of European importance and international recognition.

Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. Huawei already built 23 R&D institutions across Europe. In Bulgaria, Huawei established its operations in 2004, with headquarters located in Sofia. Thanks to its high investment in R&D and customer-oriented strategy, as well as its open partnership, Huawei is developing advanced end-to-end ICT solutions, allowing customers a competitive advantage in terms of telecommunications, network and cloud computing infrastructures.

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Commission approves €40 million Bulgarian scheme to support small enterprises affected by coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a BGN 78.2 million (approximately €40m Bulgarian scheme to support small enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grant of BGN 50,000 (approximately €25,565) per beneficiary, to cover part of their operating costs. The scheme, which will be co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, will be accessible to small enterprises active in certain sectors and meeting certain requirements defined by Bulgaria, with an annual turnover of at least BGN 500,000 (approximately €250,000) in 2019, which experienced a decrease in turnover linked the coronavirus outbreak of at least 20% over three months since February 2020, compared to the same three months in 2019.

The aim of the measure is to help beneficiaries overcome the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak and maintain employment. The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will not exceed the ceilings per company set out in the Temporary Framework; and (ii) aid under the scheme can be granted until 30 June 2021. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.59704 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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