The Open Society Institute Sofia has issued a report that outlines the main causes for the poor performance of Structural Funds in Bulgaria (summary in English here). The Structural Funds are the main instruments of the EU regional and cohesion policy. However, new Member States from Eastern Europe, and Bulgaria in particular, face significant difficulties in using those funds in their regional development.
Three problems are outlined in the report:
- Deficits in the national programming of EU funds for the financial period 2007–2013;
- Poor implementation of the principle of partnership with representatives of the civic sector in the national management of the Structural Funds;
- Deficits of the regional planning in Bulgaria.
These findings are significant, since they put in doubt the implementation of the next EU multiannual financial framework in Bulgaria. The absorption capacity is clearly very low, and specific measures must be provisioned to avoid repeating the mistakes. The European Commission usually focuses its criticism on the institutional capacity of the Bulgarian administration and the quality of the management structures. But this report clearly indicates that the problem is much deeper and starts with the programming and planning stages.