Corruption fear stops payments to Danube Delta €1 billion program

From the record budget of the EU program, the quality of life of Delta inhabitants should have been improved, but the money flew in different directions and into the pocket of different politicians and there have been no results.

There was no money left, for example, for the canal cleaning, which was very important to the locals, who mainly live from fishing. Because of the stagnating water, the canal began to rot, releasing hydrogen sulfide, which besides being very smelly is also toxic. The oxygen level of the canals is also very low, which is dangerous for the fish, whose numbers also decreased.

The program approved by the EU with a EUR 1 billion budget would not only have supported the rehabilitation of the natural environment. Local city halls and private agencies received access to the funds to increase the level of the locals’ standard of living. The Danube Delta is considered to be a biosphere reserve and hides impaired values. But the generous offer from the EU seems to have not reached its targeted recipients because the people that handled the money seem to have channeled it into their own pockets.

The hidden businesses were revealed by journalists from G4media, Info Sud-Est and Süddeutsche Zeitung. The local anti-corruption agency started an investigation together with the European Funds Ministry. Although the money came in through three ministries and many other lines of support, the journalists have observed that the County Council of Tulcea had a decisive role in the evaluation of the projects.

Altogether, it looks like 950 projects, which were submitted within the framework of the program, were not realized in the territory of the Danube Delta and only 150 were developed by locals. Because of this, the European Commission interrupted the payments and the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Agency opened an investigation.

Featured photo: WWF.ro

Author: Blanka Székely