Банкеръ Weekly


New Programme Drafts Show Complete Failure

Lots of talk, and finally quite dim results, this why one can well summarize the preparations for the new programming period in the past two years. By the deadline (November 17), Bulgaria was able to send for approval in Brussels projects only in two operational programmes - "Human Resources Development" and "Regions in Growth." The rest can be move forward as late as July next year, as the European Commission will review the multiannual financial framework.

Ridiculous in the whole situation is that the same mistakes that were committed in 2007-2008 happen again. But then the country was a newcomer in the EU and there was something it could justify delays. Eight years later, obviously we have not learned anything and we will again have two zero years in the absorption of EU funds. For 2014 it is now inevitable, but also in 2015 Bulgaria is unlikely to get much from Brussels. There was a time when politicians promised that this autumn a number of procedures for financing would be opened ...

The things could be even in a more deplorable situation if it was not for the decisive, but rather controversial action of the Cabinet Borisov. Just at the last moment before the EC slammed the door Council of Ministers in absentia, changed the draft programme "Regions in Growth" as the 67 cities that will receive EU funds were divided into large and peripherals. Namely the financing of municipalities was the dispute between Bulgarian and European authorities, and the cabinet Oresharski insisted there should be money for all settlements, and Brussels was strongly opposed that small towns receive funds under the "Regions in Growth", arguing that they have schemes under the Programme for Rural Development. Subsequently, the caretaker government of Georgi Bliznashki proposed the formation of two groups, but never took a formal decision on the matter. Now this is what the current government did: in one group they included 39 major cities that will receive 840 mln euros of the priority axis "Sustainable and integrated urban development" and the other - 28 smaller municipalities will be able to rely on 106 million euros under the axis "Support for peripheral geographical areas most affected by poverty."

Sending the draft operational programmes in Brussels, however, does not mean that they will be approved. They are even more likely be returned to Sofia for corrections, as happened several times with the Partnership Agreement.

Apparently, realizing the danger the country to remain completely paralyzed, the government will open the funding schemes in all operational programmes but with money from the budget. The hope is that by the end of 2015 the instruments should be approved and the transfer of advance payments will then cover the hole in the treasury.

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