Operational Programme 'Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy'

Under the Convergence objective, funded by ERDF


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The European Commission approved on 26 September 2007 a major development programme in Bulgaria for the period 2007-2013, entitled the Operational Programme for "Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy". This programme involves Community support for the whole national territory within the framework of the "Convergence" objective. The total budget of the programme is around EUR 1.16 billion and the Community assistance through the ERDF amounts to EUR 988 million (approximately 15 % of the total EU money to be invested in Bulgaria under the Cohesion policy 2007-2013).

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment:

The Operational Programme “Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy” (OP Competitiveness) is the main programming document aimed at improving the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy. The purpose of the support is to develop a competitive and efficient production and to promote business sectors. It will contribute to increase the economic growth and to assist the necessary structural changes in the Bulgarian economy with a view to achieving a sustainable growth and cohesion during the programming period. In order to achieve these objectives, a support is envisaged for improving the productivity and growth potential of small and medium-sized enterprises, assisting the development of innovations; helping the transition to a knowledge-based economy and introduction of new technologies; and improving the business environment. The Operational programme is fully aligned with the Lisbon Agenda 2000 objectives as well as with the Community Strategic Guidelines on economic, social and territorial cohesion. In addition, the operational programme will also contribute to the achievement of the general EU horizontal objectives, namely environment protection, equal opportunities and development of the information society.

2. The expected impact of the investment:

  • To raise the expenditures on Research and Development (R&D) by 0.64% up to the level of 1.15 % by 2013;
  • To raise the export as a share of the GDP ratio by 30 % by 2013;
  • To reduce the overall energy intensity level by 25 % compared to the level of 2004 and to create additional capacity of 16 GwH for the needs of the enterprises of renewable energy production in the national grid;
  • To create 2120 jobs, and 300 jobs in the research area;
  • In overall, the contribution of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to GDP is set at 32.3% for 2013, i.e. 10% increase in comparison with 2004 data; and Labour productivity increase will be 11.5% for the same period and baseline.

3. Priority axis

The global objective of the OP “Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy” is the development of a dynamic economy, competitive in the European and the world market. It is directly related to the guidelines provided by the National Strategic Reference Framework for 2007-2013.

If high-quality living standards based on a sustainable social and economic development are to be achieved the Bulgarian economy must develop dynamically. This is attainable mainly via competitiveness of manufactured goods and services on the international markets that ensure employment and professional development of the population. The balance between economic development and environmental protection, as well as the interrelation between high economic growth and high employment and economic participation of the population is also considered.

The road to the achievement of the global objective in the Operational Programme passes through two specific goals: to encourage innovation, to increase the efficiency of enterprises; and to improve the business environment. Accomplishing these goals will help Bulgarian enterprises become internationally competitive, and at the same time, key actors in creating sustainable growth in the Bulgarian economy in the context of the future knowledge-based economy and increasing globalisation.

The overall objectives will be achieved through five priority axes:

Priority Axis 1: “Development of a knowledge-based economy and innovation activities”

is focused on assisting the development of R&D activities for and by enterprises, aiming at strengthening their innovation potential and establishing a suitable pro-innovative business infrastructure, which shall strengthen the science-business relationship.

Priority Axis 2: “Increasing efficiency of enterprises and promoting a supportive business environment”

is focused on the support of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises with a development potential, where the modernisation of technologies and quality management will be assisted, as well as the improvement of the consultancy and information services offered to business, improving energy efficiency of enterprises and encouraging business co-operation and networking. A specific focus will be to promote investments in environmentally friendly, low-waste, energy saving production technologies and utilization of renewable energy sources, in order to significantly reduce the energy intensity of the Bulgarian businesses and adverse environmental impacts, and thus contribute to sustainable environmental development.

Priority Axis 3: “Financial Resources for Developing Enterprises”

aims at improving the access to development capital for enterprises. Its objectives are to increase investment activity and promotion of entrepreneurship through the development of special financial instruments and financial engineering for SME funding. The envisaged interventions are intended to add new opportunities for access to risk capital to SMEs in “financing niches” where traditional bank finance is currently absent or deficient. The achievement of the majority of these objectives will be sought through implementation of the joint initiative JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to medium Enterprises).

Priority Axis 4: “Strengthening the international market p ositions of Bulgarian economy”.

The priority axis is aimed at facilitating the integration of the Bulgarian economy in the single European and world market through improving the environment for investments and export. It will support the promotion of foreign investments in Bulgaria, improve the export potential of the national economy, and provide support for the national quality infrastructure by upgrading the calibration and testing laboratories and conformity assessment bodies.

Priority Axis 5: "Technical Assistance"

will provide support for the management, implementation, monitoring and control of OP “Competitiveness” activities as well as support for the work of the Monitoring Committee by funding researches and studies necessary for the implementation and the evaluation of the projects, information and publicity measures which are ensuring the transparency of the programme. The objective of the priority axis is to improve the quality of the interventions to be carried out and to increase the effectiveness of Structural funds absorption.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Development of a knowledge-based economy and innovation activities 209 525 000 36 975 000 246 500 000
Increasing efficiency of enterprises and promoting a supportive business environment 504 762 113 89 075 667 593 837 780
Financial Resources for Developing Enterprises 170 000 000 30 000 000 200 000 000
Strengthening the international market positions of Bulgarian economy 73 960 090 13 051 780 87 011 870
Technical assistance 29 636 016 5 299 885 34 935 901
Total 987 883 219 174 402 332 1 162 285 551