No changes to Bulgaria's RRP needed despite cut in EU grant funding

No changes to Bulgaria's RRP needed despite cut in EU grant funding

The implementation of Bulgaria's Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) is underway and no changes need to be made at this stage following the European Commission's decision to cut grant financing due under the plan by 578 million euro to 5.69 billion euro ($5.85 billion), the finance ministry said.

The Commission made the revision because Bulgaria posted better economic indicators than the EU average for 2021 based on final data as at June 30, the finance ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The revision is based on a legal framework agreed by the EU and the government of former Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov, which allowed for the recalculation of 30% of the total EU grant funding under the RRP, taking into account the country's real economic growth in 2021 and hence the real impact of the pandemic, the ministry explained.

Bulgaria's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 4.2% year-on-year in 2021, the national statistics office said in March. The figure was confirmed last week by provisional data published by Eurostat.

As many as 22 out of the EU's 27 member states saw their grant financing under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) reduced by the Commission, including Romania which saw the total cut by about 2 billion euro, the finance ministry added. The Commission approved 29.2 billion euro for Romania - 14.2 billion euro in grants and 14.9 billion euro in loans.

The initial RRF grant allocation was indicatively based on the Commission's Autumn 2020 Economic Forecast. The EU's executive arm is therefore implementing the RRF regulation and has finalized the allocation key as agreed upon by EU leaders, a Commission spokesperson told SeeNews.

There are requirements for Bulgaria to fulfil prior to gaining access to the funding, including the signing of financing and loan agreements with the Commission as well as agreements outlining how different milestones and targets under the plan will be attested.

"Bulgaria might be able to submit its first payment request following the signature of these additional documents and provided the completion of the milestones and targets," the spokesperson said, adding that the Commission will then have up to two months to assess the payment request and seek the opinion of the Council’s Economic and Financial Committee before making a final decision.

Bulgaria's recovery plan comprises 59 investment projects and 46 reforms, which focus on decarbonizing the economy, raising financial support for businesses and making investments in the social sector. The plan was formally endorsed by the EU in May.

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