BULGARIA: Declaration on the recent situation with the disability movement

During the last few months there is a tendency for “seizing” the voices and “substituting” the requests of thousands people with disabilities from small organizations, representing the interests of few people with marked personal financial interests. This is not connected only with legislative non-observance in the sphere of disabled persons, including few state authorities and the Parliament, as well as attacks on the existing legislative regulations. The Bulgarian legislation is coordinated with the European Union for the Bulgarian criteria for national representation – a fact that many people must be aware of. Unawareness of the European traditions of the leaders in the social politic countries and manipulative usage of information give the opportunity for ignoring the existing criteria for national representation. According to the requirements of the European Union for non-government organizations (NGOs) in the disability sphere, which the Council of Ministers in Bulgaria accepted, these organizations are a determinate number replying to the high criteria for national representation. Namely:

  • What is the real number of the beneficents and what are their requirements (that is guaranteed by a concrete membership). The organization represent the interests of more the 1 600 members. (Every person can register a NGO with 7 members but that does not make it a representative of the Bulgarian disability society. In such a way there are recently existing 800 organizations for the benefit of “their owners”. The society is deluded from the incorrect information that these organizations disseminate).
  • The organization must cover at least 30% from the teritory of Bulgaria through its representative offices and members.
  • A series of controls passing accomplished by state authorities for finance control (Ministry of Finances, Bulgarian Court of Auditors, etc.). The organization has to render an account of the current legislative requirements of the Republic of Bulgaria but not only of the particular donors, which have their own criteria.
  • It must be a member of congenial international organizations and to have a concrete influence on the social development processes. 

The Council of Ministers determines clear criteria for the Nationally represented organizations. The State recognizes these organizations as nationally represented – i.e. socially legitimate – organizations that can really promote the interests of the people with disabilities in Bulgaria to the Government, local institutions, other official international organizations, because of the fact that according to the Bulgarian legislation, they are official partners of the State local authorities. One organization that does not execute one of these requirements does not have the right to represent the disabled persons to official and unofficial institutions, in view of the fact that it works only for the interests of few employees.

With this Declaration we would like to attract your attention to one of the most important issues for the people with disabilities in Bulgaria – their representation from officially acknowledged organizations, as well as the requests of their hundreds of members to be respected. The attempts of small organizations to “get” statute of nationally represented only because of their ability to develop projects at concourses, is not only incorrect but utterly dishonest. These attempts are orientated to commercially funds assimilation but not to the concrete needs of the people with disabilities. Frequently the concourses are clear form of corruption institutionalizing that sometimes even the donors themselves do not understand.

The practice these funds to be given to such small organizations does not help the positive and stable changes in Bulgaria but only the financial prosperity of a group of people. Even winning projects in international programs leads to short-term benefits for a limited number of beneficents, regardless of “the pompous and brilliant” reports after their periods of implementation. We highly appreciate our collaboration with all legal institutions and we hope for changing the attitude to the social NGO legitimacy. Bulgaria does not need aimlessly assimilation of funds from small, temporal (even when their business is good orientated and with competitive scent for project winning) and motivated by personal financial interest organizations. Bulgaria needs collaboration with all Nationally represented organizations according to the legal criterion for common work in favour of all people with disabilities in Bulgaria, which guarantees stability of the assimilated funds in the country – the only way for developing an effective process for EU accession. The rest is tolerating funds dissipation and reinforcement of the financial benefits of small groups.

Only the Nationally represented organizations have a real partnership with State and local authorities - flexible and stable; in contrast to the “proforma” partnerships of small organizations, presented by winning European projects (the term of such a partnership depends on the period of implementation and funds of the project). This is the reason the local authorities are not in the assimilation process of the European programs. They have the role of a tiny detail that receive only the remains of the grants, because they could be a milestone as long-term partners.

Only the real partnership, established according to the European good practices between the official nationally represented organizations from the “National Council for Rehabilitation and Social Integration” in the Council of Ministers and small and public authorities, is a really working mechanism. If we combine our efforts for better understanding of this situation, we can guarantee our effective partnership for “One Europe for Citizens”, uniting the organizations with national representation and public authority.

We would truly appreciate your official statement like our social partners!


Nationally represented organizations:

  • Union of Disabled People in Bulgaria;
  • Union of Military Disabled and the Impaired in Wars and in Peace;
  • Union of the Blind in Bulgaria;
  • Bulgarian Association of People with Intellectual Disabilities;
  • National Union of the Cooperatives of Disabled;
  • National Social Rehabilitation Center;
  • Association of Parents with Deaf Children;
  • Union of the Deaf in Bulgaria;
  • Bulgarian Association “Diabetes”;
  • Association of Parents with Blind Children;
  • National Association of the Deaf-Blind in Bulgaria;
  • National Consumer Cooperation of the Blind in Bulgaria;
  • Association of National Union of the Cooperatives of Disabled, National Federation of Disabled People's Employers and the Union of Military Disabled in Bulgaria;
  • Association “Commission for Integration of People with Severe Impairments;
  • Association - network for organizations of and for people with disabilities.