Bulgaria has Utilized only 16% of the Money from New EU Programs
Four years after the start of the new programming period and three years before its end, Bulgaria continues to lag behind in the absorption of European structural and investment funds. At the end of 2017, our country managed to use only 1.587 billion euros, or 16% of the funds allocated to it from the EU budget, according to an analysis by the finance ministry. Major programs such as Environment, Science and Education and Rural Development are far below average, and Maritime Affairs and Good Governance are down 0.2% and 6.2%.
During Bulgaria's second programming period (2014-2020), Bulgaria received access to EUR 9.9 billion to finance 10 programs. Compared with the previous period (2007 - 2013), this resource is 5.2% larger, and together with the national co-financing the total budget for the EU funds is 11.7 billion euro.
Due to the unsatisfactory presentation of the new operational programs, the funding received led to a further increase in output and gross domestic product (GDP) of only 2.1% from 2014 onwards. This shows the Ministry of Finance's assessment of the macroeconomic effects of the implementation of the new operational programs as of 31 December 2017. According to MF analysis, as a result of European funding, private investment over the last 4 years increased by 9.6% compared to a scenario without EU funds. The new jobs are about 80,000 more. Until now, however, EU funds flow into the economy has increased our exports negligibly - just by 0.3% while the import result is 6.5% additional growth.
The largest budget - € 1.887 billion, is the Transport and Transport Infrastructure program. The relatively poor absorption of funds under this program - 19%, however, has a very modest effect on our economy, which is measurable by 0.1% GDP growth.
Another major program - "Environment", as in the previous period, is the worst. Of its budget of € 1.770 billion at the end of 2017, only € 94.5 million, or 5.3%, were paid. Therefore, in practice, this program has in no way influenced the improvement of the Bulgarian economy and the standard of living. Similar is the situation with Growth of Regions, where the absorption rate is 18.2%. The "Science and Education for Smart Growth" OP, which is extremely reliant on raising the quality of the workforce in Bulgaria, has so far boasted 9.9% of EU funds.
For the time being, "Innovation and Competitiveness" and "Human Resources Development" programs, with EU funds absorption of 22.6% and 23.1% respectively, are "excellent". The second program currently has the strongest impact on the country's economy - additional GDP growth of 1.6%, private investment of 4.2% and employment 3.2%. The subsidized jobs revealed under this program are also responsible for additional wage growth in the country of 3.2%.
In 2018, the government plans to award more than 40 project award procedures worth more than $ 1.3 billion for programs co-financed by EU funds. This is shown in the indicative annual work plans for the 2018 Coordination Council management of EU funds to the Council of Ministers. After the European presidency, in the middle of 2018, preparations for the next programming period will begin, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev promised. The emphasis will be on reinforcing sectoral policies so that funds complement and not replace national investment.
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