Bulgarian Business Lukewarm about EU Money

Bulgaria in EU | August 12, 2010, Thursday // 09:52|  views

Fewer and fewer Bulgarian companies now apply for EU funds for innovation and modernization, which are the two top priorities of the EU operational program "Competitiveness." File photo

The business in Bulgaria is steadily losing interest in the EU operational program “Competitiveness” – which is the main tool used to finance projects in the private sector.

According to a report of the Bulgarian daily “Dnevnik” fewer and fewer companies now apply for funds for innovation and modernization, which are the two top program priorities.

For example, the procedure for projects for the establishment of the so-called technology parks had been launched as early as the term of the previous, socialist-led coalition cabinet, but there isn’t a single proposal, and the procedure faces closure while the funds will be redirected.

There are only two project applications for patent innovative products under the procedure opened by the cabinet of the now ruling center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party while the number of those interested in the modernization of small and medium enterprises is down almost two times – from 950 last year to below 600 in 2010.

Cumbersome and slow processing of the applications, the mandate for 100% bank guarantees, and constant change of rules are the main reasons for the slump of interest in EU funding, according to the business.

Only 1.12% of the funds from the program, which are available until 2013, have been absorbed so far. From 739 contracts signed in the last three years since Bulgaria joined the EU, 172 gave been annulled on the request of the beneficiaries, while only 69 have been carried out and paid off.

The Minister for the Management of the EU Funds, Tomislav Donchev, informs he had send a letter to the management of the program in Bulgaria, asking them to also accept promissory notes from the applicants, but there have been some objections on the part of the administration of “Competitiveness.”

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Tags: Competitiveness, EU operational program, Tomislav Donchev, innovation, modernization


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