Bulgaria is to quickly adopt a package of five laws regarding agriculture reform, in order to fulfill the EU accession criteria, writes a Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) commentary. Nine months before the accession scheduled date, Bulgaria still faces economic and social problems.

Last week the European Affairs minister Meglena Kuneva warned about the possibility of a one year delay for Bulgaria’s accession if the country proves "obviously not ready" to join the EU. The statement prompted the socialist Sergei Stanishev government to intensify efforts in order to fulfill all accession criteria.

Agriculture is one of the major challenges for the country, as the European Commission monitoring reports have made clear by drawing attention to the funds distribution, and food processing.

Consequently, the Parliament is to pass a series of five laws to cover the problematic fields, however, experts foresee difficulties in their implementation as too many and too fast.

Special attention is required by the veterinary medicine law, which although adopted, is incomplete. As the EU legislation entails money compensations for sacrificed ailed animals, Bulgaria has ensured 8.7 mln euros for such cases but the legislative void and the absence of a money distribution agency made it difficult for the government to compensate the farmers.

The porcine plague and the avian flu pose major challenges for the Bulgarian agriculture.

Another problem regards the shutting down of enterprises that no longer correspond to European standards, which are usually reopened.

The Parliament adopted an amendment to the Farmers’ Law by which a new institution will deal with European funding distribution. The Bulgarian Finance Ministry complains though that there is not enough money to ensure the co-financing of projects.

Authorities make all efforts to limit the criticism and adopt the agriculture legislation in time for a positive monitoring report awaited in May.

Article signed by Tatyana Dimitrova, Radio Darik journalist.