"Bulgaria and Romania are being monitored by the EU due to the untransparent process under which public contracts are allocated," writes Sofia-based news website Mediapool. The website adds that the Bulgarian government was informed on October 30 that an audit by the Internal Market and Services Directorate General (DG MARKT) of the European Commission would be imminent. Taking the initiative, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Zinaïda Zlatanova admitted her country's weaknesses in this area, saying –

The situation is dramatic. The state of our system of allocation of public contracts is bad. In 70 per cent of tenders, there is only one candidate, which means that there is a flagrant lack of competition. The problem is not one of legislation but in the application of the rules. It seems as if most tenders are written for candidates who have been chosen in advance.

According to Mediapool, the DG MARKT audit concerns procedures for the allocation of public contracts financed by European and local funds.

Things are no better in neighbouring Romania, but here the authorities seem to have already anticipated EU action. On October 30, says business website Business 24, the National Agency for Integrity (NAI) – the group responsible for fighting corruption – announced the creation of a "Big Brother unit to oversee the use of European funds" in Romania.

By June 2014, NAI will acquire "a computerised surveillance system, which will highlight any doubts about public contract allocations involving European funds," the website explains. This monitoring system will be financed by a €7m European grant. According to the web site –

in 2012, in a study of 180 cases of public contract allocation, 78 elected officials received public funds [after companies with which they had links won contracts] in the course of the allocation process, resulting in a total loss of €8m.