Country report Bulgaria - Work Package 1 Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)
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The global economic and financial crisis had a severe impact on the Bulgarian economy, where growth declined from 6% a year between 2000 and 2007 to under 1% a year between 2007 and 2009. In the following two years, growth was around 1% a year before rising to 1.5% in 2014 and 2% in 2015, rates that were well below those experienced in the pre-crisis period. Growth at these low rates proved unable to support sustainable recovery in employment which remains a key issue. Unemployment, therefore, almost doubled between 2007 and 2013, to 13% of the labour force, though it subsequently came down to under 10% in 2015.
Regional disparities remain significant, in particular between the South-west region, which includes the capital city Sofia, and the rest of the country. The gap between the two remained much the same over the period, as the crisis had a similar effect on both the strong region and the weaker ones, hindering any convergence of the latter towards the former.
All the region in Bulgaria were eligible for support under the Convergence Objective over the 2007-2013 period. In total, support from the ERDF and Cohesion Fund amounted to EUR 5.4 billion, equivalent to just over 2% of GDP and around 39% of Government capital expenditure. Over the 2007-2013 period, the two were major sources of investment for both the public and private sectors and helped to moderate the economic downturn.
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