The European Commission adopted its Partnership Agreement with Bulgaria, laying down the Cohesion Policy investment strategy worth €11 billion for the period 2021-2027. Cohesion Policy funds will promote economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Bulgarian regions and help implementing key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition. These funds will also support policy areas where Bulgaria has potential to improve and reduce regional disparities within the country.
The Partnership Agreement covers the European Regional and Development Fund – ERDF, the European Social Fund Plus - ESF+, the Cohesion Fund – CF, the Just Transition Fund – JTF, and the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund - EMFAF.
Green transition and reducing energy dependence
€2.4 billion from the ERDF and Cohesion Fund will help Bulgaria achieve its climate targets.
In particular, €600 million will help increase the share of renewable energy to 27% of total energy consumption as well as reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in public buildings. ERDF funding will also be used to recycle 70% of all packaging waste.
Moreover, the investments will also focus on the reduction by more than 1/3 (at least 35%) in the share of the population living at risk of natural disasters, such as floods or wildfires.
The JTF will provide €1.3 billion to ensure a socially and economically sustainable transition. The Fund will improve the capacity of the impacted territories to make better use of renewable energy.
Catching up with the EU and supporting the most vulnerable regions
The funds will also help Bulgaria improve its basic infrastructure, especially in the regions where infrastructure investments are insufficient or lacking. Almost half of the total Cohesion Policy funding, €4.2 billion will be invested in the Northwest, North Central and Northeast regions, including in co-financing the construction of the Shipka Tunnel, the first tunnel through the Balkan Mountains.
Moreover, EU support for the business environment is expected to increase the share of innovative small and medium-sized businesses that will create jobs and contribute to the development of the Bulgarian economy from 27.2% in 2016 to 32% in 2026.
Jobs of the future: A more socially inclusive and digital-friendly labour market
Bulgaria will invest €2.6 billion from the ESF+ to improve access to employment, increase skills so that people can successfully navigate the digital and green transition, and ensure equal access to quality and inclusive education and training. This includes €315 million for youth employment support and €630 million for social inclusion measures of which €136 million will tackle child poverty. €221 million will address the socio–economic integration of marginalised communities, such as Roma.
Thanks to EU funding, the early school dropout rate is expected to decrease by 2030 from 12.8% to 7%. The adult participation in learning is expected to increase from 24.6% to 35.4%, while the employment rate is expected to increase from 73% to 79%. The population at risk of poverty and social exclusion is expected to decrease by 0.8 million from 2.3 million to 1.5 million.
Finally, Bulgaria aims to exceed the Porto target when it comes to employment rate, and the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the country should decrease by almost 800,000.
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
The EMFAF will invest around €84.9 million in more sustainable fisheries and the restoration and conservation of aquatic biological resources in the Black Sea. Support will also be provided for the development of a sustainable aquaculture and processing sector, the local fisheries and aquaculture communities and to the implementation of international ocean governance. All supported actions will contribute to the objectives of the Common Fishery Policy as well as the key EU policy priorities outlined in the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategies.
Source: European Commission