Bulgaria's Deputy PM for EU Funds: Work Continues for Faster Accession to the Eurozone
"Today's forum aims to exchange experience and good practices between Bulgaria and Spain regarding the recovery and resilience mechanism. Spain is one of the most successful countries, perhaps the most successful so far in Europe in terms of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RSP), they have already approved the third payment and today's forum will aim to exchange practices between the institutions on how to move forward - better, faster and more successful from the point of view of the investment projects under RSP, as well as in terms of reforms."
This is what the Deputy Prime Minister for European Fund Management Atanas Pekanov said in response to a question from Bulgarian media "BGNES" about the forum organized by the Bulgarian-Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Liberal Institute for Political Analyzes on the topic "National recovery plan - the Spanish experience and their practical application in absorbing the funds from the Fund - "Spain can do it. Can Bulgaria do it as well?".
"In December, Bulgaria received the first payment, we are now working on all the goals set in both the second and third payments. Those who are somehow not affected by the decision of the parliament regarding changes to certain commitments in the decarbonization sector", Pekanov pointed out, adding that the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Environment and Water are preparing a reasoned position of Bulgaria as to why some of the set goals for this year, are not possible for our country to fulfill due to the rather difficult energy situation. According to him, when this position is ready in the month of March, it will be sent to the European Commission (EC), after which there will be discussions on how to propose more realistic goals on the one hand, and on the other hand to achieve the goals for decarbonization and the green deal that remain relevant.
To a question from BGNES, related to Bulgaria's accession to the Eurozone, Pekanov said that our country continues to work actively on the technical preparation for entering the euro area. "You know that this year we did not meet the convergence criteria in terms of inflation and in terms of the legal framework, which led to this delay of one year. Unfortunately, it comes at a price, i.e. it brings damage, in my opinion, to the country," he said, assuring that the work for faster accession to the Eurozone continues.
Pekanov explained that the damage was in three directions. "With entry into the Eurozone, interest rates on government debt will fall, so the state will give less funds for this and will be able to use these funds for something else," he pointed out, adding that at the same time, upon entry, interest rates for households and businesses will also fall. "That is, this is one expenditure that they will continue to make while we only have one foot in the Eurozone. When we finally enter, we will have positives, which at the moment we lose in a year, unfortunately," said the deputy prime minister for management of European funds.
Francisco Fonseca-Morillo, Professor of Public International Law and International Relations, President of the Castile and Leon Council of the European Movement (Movimiento Europeoc), explained during the forum that we are currently in difficult times. "For the first time in history, the European Union (EU) is in the international capital market," he noted.
"My first question to you is this: You have received close to €2 billion in 2022. In theory, you could ask for close to €5 billion more by the end of the year in grants. In order to find solutions, we need to make a plan to decide how we will use this money. There is a proposed reform in your current plan that you must expedite," stated Morillo.
Regarding the Spanish experience, he said the first thing they learned was that it was very difficult to spend that money. “There should be formal training on how to use these acquired funds. In two years, Spain has managed to teach nearly 70% of its specialized personnel how to handle and work with these new resources," Morillo emphasized. According to him, we have identified the energy problem in the country. “Carbon emissions must be contained to reduce your costs. The best development of the country would be territorial compliance: modernizing the whole country, for example, with the scope or systems of online banking would greatly help the development of Bulgaria. This would help prove your seriousness about your desire to enter the Eurozone and economic development," said Morillo. He is categorical that Bulgaria needs predictable justice and must work for its implementation, as well as show investors that our country provides favorable circumstances for work and investment.
For his part, Minister Pekanov said that he agrees with Morillo. "We have draft laws and we will do everything possible for the next government to accept them," said the Deputy Prime Minister for European Funds, agreeing that Bulgaria's biggest priority is to develop public-private partnerships. "We continue to work to fulfill the goals we have set for ourselves. Sooner or later they will be fulfilled, not only ours but also those that the EU sets for itself. We continue to work on the main milestones that we must achieve by the end of the year," Pekanov also noted. According to him, Bulgarian citizens are skeptical of public-private partnerships, but our country will do everything possible to convince them of their usefulness.
Alfonso González Finat, Adviser to the Secretary of State for Energy on EU Policies, Deputy on the Administrative Board of the "Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)", specified that in relation to public-private partnerships, we must ask ourselves where the risk really is and who takes it. "The most important thing is how the laws define the responsibilities of the public and private sectors," he believes. According to him, it is also important to know how we will recover the invested resources and who will be responsible for their reproduction.
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