Operational Programme 'Regional Development'

Programme under the Convergence Objective, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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On 5 November 2007, the European Commission approved a “Regional Development” Operational Programme for the whole territory of Bulgaria for the period 2007-13(modified 09/02/2011). The Programme falls within the framework laid out for Convergence and Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objectives and has a total budget of around €1.6 billion. Community investment through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to some €1.4 billion, which represents approximately 19.8% of the total EU investment earmarked for Bulgaria under the Cohesion Policy for 2007-13.

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

Bulgaria significantly lags behind in respect of per capita GDP compared to the EU average (Bulgarian GDP is 28.3% of the EU-27 average). This shortfall places Bulgarian regions in one of the last positions among other EU regions. The main objectives of the Operational Programme are to:

  • reduce the socio-economic differences between Bulgaria and other EU Member States;
  • make living and working conditions in Bulgaria more attractive;
  • develop tourism potential; and
  • stimulate investments in smaller municipalities.

The Bulgaria Regional Development Operational Programme has been prepared in line with the Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs and the principles defined in the Göteborg strategy for sustainable development.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The 2007-13 Operational Programme in Bulgaria seeks to produce the following results: 

  • Enhancing the physical, economic and social living and working environments of urban centres and connecting these centres with each other;
  • Connecting surrounding areas with their centres to ensure appropriate access;
  • Support key investments in these areas consistent with cost-effectiveness, efficiency and equity;
  • Promoting a rational and cost-effective approach to investment through co-operation between large urban centres and their surrounding areas municipalities; and where appropriate, among small municipalities whose size and inadequate level of resources precludes viable independent action for all municipalities to encourage an appropriate integrated approach; and
  • Ensuring adequate support to the local and inter-regional development process.

3. Priorities

The Operational Programme is structured along the following priorities:

Priority 1: Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development [approximately 53.6% of total funding]

This priority seeks to support interventions to reinforce the role of cities and poles of growth, such as improving social, educational and cultural infrastructures and housing, providing modern health equipment, modernising urban transport and making the environment of urban zones more attractive for living.

Priority 2: Regional and local accessibility [approximately 25.0% of total funding]

The objective of this priority is to provide better connections between the urban zones and their hinterlands by improving roads and transport connections, building gas pipeline connection between Bulgaria and Serbia as well as upgrading information and communication technology (ICT) networks infrastructure.

Priority 3: Sustainable Tourism Development [approximately 12.3% of total funding]

The objective of this priority include:

  • the development and modernisation of tourism infrastructure, such as cultural and historic attractions and accommodation facilities;
  • tourism services improvement, throughout the country;
  • destination marketing improvement; and
  • partnership strengthening between different actors in tourism and tourism related sectors.

Priority 4: Local development and cooperation [approximately 5.6% of total funding]

This priority attends to those municipalities, outside more congested urban areas, that need investments to enhance their development. Investments in industrial, educational and health infrastructure will be supported. Measures will also make use of project ideas and the experiences of other EU regions and local authorities, by exchanging knowledge and best practices.

Priority 5: Technical assistance [approximately 3.4% of total funding]

Support for managing and implementation of the Operational Programme is provided by this priority. Financial support is available for covering administration costs, monitoring, control activities, publicity and also for the improvement of the administrative capacity of the beneficiaries of the Programme.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'Regional Development'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision

C/2007/5440 + C(2011)488

Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development 730 207 777 128 860 196 859 067 973
Regional and Local Accessibility 340 270 886 60 047 803 400 318 689
Sustainable Tourism Development 185 379 580 29 714 043 198 093 623
Local development and cooperation 76 220 679 13 450 708 89 671 387
Technical assistance 46 004 623 8 118 464 54 123 087
Total 1 378 083 545 240 191 214 1 601 274 759