The building on 21 Maria Theresa Street in the European Quarter in Brussels, which houses the office of Monica Yosifova’s company, is “next door” to the office of OLAF. Photo: Google Maps
The European Parliament is funding the one-person company of Monica Yosifova – Stanisheva, “Active Group” Ltd. The company, owned by the wife of the President of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and Chairman of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Sergey Stanishev, is a beneficiary in a project, which is subsidized by the budget of the European Parliament. EP’s Directorate General “Communications” has given half of the total amount of EUR 118 720 for the project “How Do We Comprehend EP” to Yosifova’s company. The other half must be funded by the company itself. This is disclosed on the site of the project razberiep.eu. “Active Group” gained notoriety through the scandalous affair “Hochegger” for being a subcontractor of the lobbyist, who has been convicted in Austria.
The financing of nearly 70 000 euros, or about 135 000 levs must be used by Sergey Stanishev’s wife to organize children drawing competitions in six Bulgarian cities and a conference on “European Values, the European Parliament and Us” and arrange an event reenacting the work of the European Parliament before European elections. A website with a domain, a Facebook page (liked so far by 1 533 people) and informational materials have been created for the project. Specialists in the field of communications have shared that in Bulgarian conditions such activities can be implemented with high quality for times smaller amounts.
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In comparison, the same Directorate of the European Parliament has supported with 44 000 euros the larger-scale and much more visible media project “Europe for Me,” a partner program of the Horizont (Horizon) program of the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Radio Sofia and the Bulgarian National Radio website.
The company of Monica Yosifova – Stanisheva has good revenues, according to its published annual reports. For 2012, it has over 1 million levs in retained earnings. The correspondent of the Bulgarian daily Trud (Labor) in Brussels, Veselin Zhelev, said in his blog that the company supports an office in the prestigious “European” neighborhood in Brussels, not far from the headquarters of the European Parliament and the European Commission. Office rents in the area range around 30 euros per square meter per month, which does not include utility bills for electricity and water supply. Besides the European Parliament, Monica Yosifova’s company’s clients include five Bulgarian ministries, the Tourism Agency, the Employment Agency, and the Council of Ministers.
The news about the wife of PES chief receiving financing from the EU budget came on the very same day when the European Commission announced that it would send a special mission to Sofia to investigate irregularities in public procurement. A spokeswoman for Internal Market and Services, Chantal Hughes, said in Brussels that “the Commission is concerned about the public procurement situation in Bulgaria.”
Sharing this concern about the allocation of EU funds, we sent the question about a possible conflict of interest to the Directorate General “Communications” of the European Parliament. Our only motive is finding explanations about the criteria for determining conflict of interest, used in the work of the highest European lawmaking body.
Bivol also contacted Ms Yosifova on the phone and asked her if she thought she might be in conflict of interest because her husband is the leader of the main party in the EP and the money for this project was granted from the budget of the European Parliament. Yosifova said she was not aware of the particular project, but promised to send a detailed response to written questions by email. However, since we were not given an email address to which to send our questions, we will publish Yosifova’s response subsequently, if and when we get it.
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