Additional EUR 7 million invested by MRDPW for the development of border regions between Bulgaria and Macedonia

Additional EUR 7 million invested by MRDPW for the development of border regions between Bulgaria and Macedoni

30 Jan 2018 | 15:34

48 projects worth EUR 10 million are implemented by the two countries for tourism development, environment conservation, and raising competitiveness

Additional EUR 7 million will be invested by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works for the development of the border region between Bulgaria and Macedonia through the INTERREG-IPA Cross-border Cooperation Bulgaria-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Program 2014-2020, announced Deputy Minister Denitsa Nikolova, who chairs the fifth meeting of the Joint Program Monitoring Committee, which took place in Kyustendil. Within a few days, the second call for proposals will be announced by organizations from both sides of the border and the deadline for applications will be three months.

Deputy Minister Nikolova noted that 48 projects worth more than EUR 10 million are currently being implemented between the two countries, with more than 50% of the contracted resource being paid off. They are in the area of ​​improving the opportunities for sustainable tourism, environment conservation, and raising competitiveness. The new projects will be submitted and evaluated entirely electronically, facilitating potential beneficiaries and ensuring greater publicity in the evaluation of projects selected on a competitive basis. The interest is very high, with more than 200 proposals submitted under the first call only, of which 48 were funded, as became clear at the meeting.

“The results we achieve contribute to the context of the Bulgarian EU Presidency because the inclusion of the Western Balkans is among our priorities. This program is one of the examples that contribute not only to the implementation of this priority, but also to the establishment of good relations, the creation of new partnerships and joint projects to develop the regions of the two countries and which prove that together we achieve more,” Denitsa Nikolova said. She stressed that integrated projects that achieve the objectives of the set indicators will have priority. “We announce 100% of funding for the program, thus we hope to meet all 27 indicators by the end of the year. We currently cover 14 of them,” the Deputy Regional Minister said.

“The interest is great because the effect is visible. We have managed to develop the potential of these underdeveloped regions. This way we also contribute to the implementation of the Friendship and Neighborhood Treaty between the two countries.”

Deputy Minister Denitsa Nikolova told reporters in Kyustendil that Operational Program Regions in Growth 2014-2020 is being implemented very well. To date, 67% of the program funds have been contracted, which are over BGN 3 billion. The payments made amount to 27% of the contracted funds. Deputy Minister Nikolova announced that the call for energy efficiency in small municipalities will be discussed by the Monitoring Committee within a week, and by the end of April the measure for deinstitutionalization of the elderly people and the scheme for funding tourism projects will be launched.

“We have to distinguish between the territorial-administrative division of the country, which concerns the number of municipalities and districts, and the statistical regions that are currently subject to consideration and discussion in terms of reporting indicators to the EU for the development of a given territory,” said Deputy Minister Nikolova in response to a question about the changes in the scope of the zoning regions. “There will be a wide public discussion on the options proposed by the working group for the statistical regions. They are important to predict the direction of investment beyond 2020 as a basis for drafting all European programs that are implemented at the national level. Our goal is to identify the territory by such signs and indicators that in the future we have the opportunity to achieve better results and higher economic development through this zoning and directing of investments,” Nikolova added. She explained that the regions of the country will be geographically differentiated, taking into account the population, natural resources, development potential, economic ties, etc., in order to achieve a more targeted development in the future.