The European Commission has adopted a "Partnership Agreement" with Bulgaria setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing €7.6 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding and the allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative). Bulgaria also receives €2.3 billion for rural development and €88 million for fisheries and the maritime sector.
The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy.
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are:
Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "Today we have adopted a vital, strategic investment plan that sets Bulgaria on the path to jobs and growth for the next 10 years. This Partnership Agreement reflects the European Commission and Bulgaria's joint determination to make the most efficient use of EU funding so that the Bulgarian people themselves feel the benefit of these investments in an improved quality of life. Our investments must be strategic, according to the new Cohesion Policy: focusing on the real economy, on sustainable growth and investing in people. But quality not speed is the paramount aim and in the coming months we are fully dedicated to negotiating the best possible outcome for investments from the European Structural and Investment Funds in 2014-2020. Commitment is needed on all sides to ensure good quality programmes are put in place.”
Commissioner Hahn added: "This investment strategy builds on the important efforts Bulgaria is already making to help the EU meet its goals of creating long-term and sustainable development in all of its less developed regions. This Partnership Agreement covering all Structural and Investment Funds in Bulgaria will give a strategic direction to future programmes that will create jobs, transform BulgarianSMEs into models of growth, and support environmentally friendly growth in its cities as well. It should also help secure Bulgaria's well-established track record in catching up with the rest of Europe. The European Structural and Investment Funds are helping Bulgaria's regions and cities to face these challenges."
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor said:
"I congratulate Bulgaria for the adoption of its Partnership Agreement. Around €1.5 billion from the European Social Fund will be available to Bulgaria in the period 2014-2020, a 20% increase compared to the previous period. I am very pleased that Bulgaria decided to dedicate 30% of the Structural Funds allocations to the European Social Fund. Bulgaria has made extensive use of the ESF in the past – 1 in 7 Bulgarian citizens has benefitted directly from the ESF. The ESF will remain the main funding instrument to tackle youth unemployment, support those most in need on the labour market, improve the labour-market relevance of vocational education and training, address poverty and social exclusion of the Roma minority and improve efficiency and quality in public administration and the judiciary".
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş said:
“The European Structural and Investment Funds constitute an important source for public investments in Bulgaria. I am confident that today we have adopted a Partnership Agreement which shows how Bulgaria will be spending these Funds over the next years in a meaningful and efficient way, striving for best value for money and addressing immediate priorities. Bulgaria is a highly rural country, with an important share of the agri-food sector in its GDP. The EU rural development funding will contribute to increasing the competitiveness of Bulgaria's agricultural sector, including via farm restructuring and support for a more balanced and environmentally-friendly development. Investments in rural areas will be helping preserve Bulgaria's rich rural landscapes by targeting growth and jobs, economic revival and decreasing the depopulation of these areas.”
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said:
"The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will contribute to the Common Fisheries Policy's objectives for sustainable development in Bulgaria and across Europe. It will invest in reducing the impact of fishing activities on the marine environment, in supporting small businesses in the aquaculture and processing sectors, and contribute to the development of the local economy of fisheries dependent areas in Bulgaria. ”