Bulgaria Mulls Reducing Districts from 28 to 6 over EU Funds

Bulgaria Mulls Reducing Districts from 28 to 6 over EU Funds

Bulgaria's government is considering removing the 28 administrative districts of the country to set up 6 larger units in their place, according to EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev.

Donchev spoke at a construction forum on Wednesday, saying that the establishment of only six administrative districts was currently being considered by the government's Council on Decentralization.

Thus, the six administrative districts will correspond to the six planning regions, or NUTS 2 regions, existing under the Eurostat; according to Eurostat guidelines, NUTS 2 regions have a population of between 800 000 and 3 million.

Another option for administrative reform mulled by the government is to keep the current overlapping of 28 districts and six planning regions but two create two types of District Governors.

At present, the six planning regions do not have governors and administrations and are handled by the central government; if the second option is adopted, the planning regions will governors, while the "second-rate" governors of the 28 districts will see their administrations dwindle to only 5 civil servants per governor.

"This is a really hard reform and we are worried if the 2.5 year that we have remaining in office will be enough for it because a Constitutional amendment is requirement," Donchev has commented.

Bulgaria's administrative reform is also connected with the management of EU funds in the next budget planning period of 2014-2020.

The idea of the Borisov Cabinet is to set up a Development Agency to administer the absorption of EU operational programs independent of whoever might be in power. The agency is going to have six units for each of the planning regions.

Minister Donchev said the current seven EU operational programs will be reduced to five at most, possibly even three.

At present, Bulgaria's district authorities are appointed by the central government - unlike the municipal authorities - and are devoid of major powers.

Bulgaria's Severozapaden (Northwestern) region is the poorest NUTS 2 region in the EU. / Source: Sofia News Agency/

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