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Business for tomorrow: Bulgaria on the radar



Since its EU accession in 2007, Bulgaria has been benefiting from the Union's Investment and Structural Funds at an increasing speed. For the last decade, these funds appear to be the chief driver for Bulgaria's reforms and economic development. EU funding furthermore plays a major role in financing public investments, with almost half of all public spending coming from the Cohesion Policy funds.
Bulgaria has been allocated around €7.6 billion for the programming period 2014-2020. This EU financial support is targeted at improving the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy, research and innovation, transport infrastructure, urban development, improved water and waste management, employment, increasing access to higher education, strengthening the capacity of public administration and the judiciary, and promoting good governance.This opens a large market for all companies selling to the public sector in Bulgaria. At the same time, Bulgarian privately owned companies, especially SMEs, benefit directly from EU funding for their own investment needs – to buy new machinery, make production more efficient, invest in innovation or train their employees.

European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027 

With a proposed envelope of €8,9 billion, Bulgaria will be the 12th largest recipient of 2021-2027 EU Cohesion Policy funds in the Union, and 6th largest in the Central and Eastern region, after Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Led by the Central Coordination Unit within the Council of Ministers Administration, the Bulgarian authorities have already proposed how the new funds will be spent. In the next programming period, 2021-2027, Bulgaria will manage eight operational programmes under EU Cohesion Policy:

Cohesion Policy Fund ​European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) ​European Social Fund (ESF)
​Transport ​x ​x
​Innovation and Competitiveness​x
​Regional Development​x
​Human Resources Development​x
Food for the Most Deprived​x
​Science and Education​x​x

The operational programmes' budgets have already been set according to five objectives that will drive EU investment in Bulgaria during 2021-2027. The budget allocation for each objective is as follows:

  1. smarter Europe by promoting innovative and smart economic transformation: € 1966,96 M
  2. greener, low-carbon Europe, clean and fair energy transition, green and blue investment, the circular economy, climate adaptation and risk prevention and management:€2302,47 M
  3. more connected Europe by enhancing mobility and regional ICT connectivity: € 1252,06 M
  4. more social Europe implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights: € 2484,48 M
  5. Europe closer to citizens by fostering the sustainable and integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas and local initiatives: € 1145,68 M

What comes next?
  • By end 2019: National working groups start drafting the 2021-2027 operational programmes.
  • First half 2020: First draft expected.
  • By end 2020: Final documents approved.
  • Beginning 2021: Implementation begins
Note: the formal adoption of the EU budget and EU funding regulations will affect this timeline.

Why engage in the ESIF 2021-2027 preparation process?

  1. To gain early intelligence on the future EU-funded business environment in Bulgaria
  2. To plan your future business strategies in the country
  3. To position your organisation to shape the new EU funding programmes in the country

How we can help you:

At Schuman Associates, we have extensive experience in supporting clients to: 

  • understand and influence the policy and funding framework driving EU funding cycles
  • leverage downstream market opportunities and win EU-funded business
  • follow the right strategy to position early for EU funding opportunities, enabling clients to invest in a project or sell services.

In addition to this, our local presence means that we can:
  • guide you through national, local and regional funding that is complementary to ESIF
  • engage with international financing institutions working in Bulgaria in close cooperation with the European Commission
  • access key stakeholders and local partners 

For more information, get in touch with our consultant in Bulgaria, Tanya Petrova.

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