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Feb 11, 2011


The European Commission (EC) has reported an improved rate of EU funds absorption in Bulgaria. However, the total amount of absorbed funds remains low; therefore Bulgaria should make further efforts take full advantage of its EU membership.

The annual meeting between the EC and Bulgaria for the review of the structural funds placed special focus on the two biggest operational programmes "Transport" and "Environment", which have indicated a relatively lower rate of absorption. This development is attributable to the complex infrastructural projects implemented under these programmes, which require much more time for preparation and implementation as compared to projects under other programmes. Furthermore, significant reforms were carried out in the operational programme "Environment" last year with the aim of focusing available resources and ensuring their optimal efficiency. According to Ivelina Vasileva, Deputy Minister of Environment and Water, 2010 was a year of reforms in the programme, 2011 will be the year of contracting, while 2012 will bring active payment. "

It was recommended that OPE should focus on its work with municipalities as the main programme beneficiaries and the training of their personnel. The European Commission supported the idea of mobile groups, which will provide on-spot consultations and welcomed the adopted approach of conducting weekly consultations. A positive assessment was also given to the corrective measures, which suspended financing for projects which proved to be inefficient and of low priority.

The team of the operational programme provided convincing proofs of the optimised management of the programme; therefore the European Commission expects that a larger part of the funds allocated for the environment will be contracted this year. Deputy-minister Vasileva noted that OPE surpassed twice its annual programme in 2010, while the investment value of opened procedures in the water sector was three times higher than planned. Vasileva considers the current year very important not only because it will see the actual launching of several major projects, but also because of beginning preparation for projects complying with the priorities of the subsequent programme period 2014 to 2020. The successful implementation of current commitments will give Bulgaria a better start into the negotiations on the new financial framework, Vasileva further said.