EU Approves Bulgaria's Convergence Program

Bulgaria in EU | April 26, 2010, Monday // 21:01|  views

The building of Bulgaria's Finance Ministry in downtown Sofia. Photo by BGNES

The European Union General Affairs Council has formally approved Bulgaria’s convergence program, the government’s press service announced on Monday.

The council has upheld without any debates the assessment of the European Commission of the Bulgarian government’s efforts to maintain strict and predictable fiscal policy.

In March the European Commission described as “adequate” the government’s macroeconomic policy and recommended that it continues to press on with the structural reforms.

The Council’s statement notes the need for speeding up reforms in healthcare, pension system, education, state administration and business environment.

Thanks to its tight fiscal policy measures in 2009 the government has managed to make up for the considerable loss in revenues in the wake of the unexpectedly sharp recession and the changes in the structures of GDP, the assessment says.

It points out that cuts in administration expenses and implemented measures to improve the collection of taxes have made possible a comparatively low budget deficit for 2009.

The council recommends that Bulgaria’s budget strategy assigns top priority to maintaining a balanced budget.

“The approval of the convergence program is a very good assessment of the new government’s work,” Prime Minister Boyko Borisov commented on Monday.

A week ago, Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, announced that during the informal meeting, the EC had evaluated the Convergence Program submitted by the Bulgarian government under the Stability and Growth Pact as “adequate.”

On Tuesday, however, Amadeu Altafaj, spokesperson of Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Ollie Rehn, said the European Commission had not reevaluated its assessment of the Bulgarian cabinet's Convergence Program.

On the same day, the Finance Ministry issued a press release, explaining the revised project received unofficial political approval at the informal ECOFIN meeting while the official one is certain and forthcoming.

The Bulgarian center-right government submitted to the European Commission at the end of January its convergence program until 2012, which outlines the preparations for joining the ERM II mechanism and the adoption of the euro.

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Tags: EC, European Commission, finance minister, Simeon Djankov, Convergence Program, Eurozone, ERM II


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