The proposed new European Union multiannual budget for the period 2021-2027 should make the Bulgarian government happy. The money it receives from the structural and agricultural funds, instead of decreasing, as many predicted, are actually increasing. While cohesion funds for Hungary, for example, are slashed by 24%, Bulgaria will see 8% more money that is supposed to help it catch up with the rest of EU. The funds for the agricultural sector will remain almost at the same level as in the period 2014-2020, while most member states will see a modest decrease.
The European Commission's draftunveiled at the beginning of May, is the very first shot in the very long EU budget battle. The proposed budget could be significantly amended by the time it is finally adopted by the member states and the European Parliament at the end of 2019.
The news for Bulgaria is positive, although the good budget numbers are not a result of stellar performance of the Bulgarian economy and government. Quite on the contrary, the sluggish pace of Bulgarian convergence to the rest of EU is the reason for the increased funding. Bulgaria is the only member states with incomes below 50% of the EU average. Romania, for example, has reached 63%.
The other countries that will see an increase of available EU funds are Romania (the other laggard), Italy, Spain and Greece (which have had disastrous economic performance in the last 10 years) and a bit surprisingly - Finland and Belgium, which didn't score well economically, as well as Sweden, probably to compensate it for the huge number of refugees it has received.
During the period 2014-2021 Bulgaria is expected to receive 5.231 billion euro in total for its agricultural sector (in constant 2018 prices). For the period 2021-2027 the European Commission proposes 5.103 billion euro, which is 2.5% decrease. Actually, the that the cut is deeper, because in the current seven-year budget period the agricultural funds for Bulgaria have been reduced in order not to slash payments to other member states. As of 2021 Bulgaria will finally have an equal status with the rest of the EU.
The cohesion money will reach 8.9 billion euro, which is an important increase, since 50% of all public investments in Bulgaria come from the European funds. However, in per-capita terms Bulgaria will still receive half of what Greece gets (but twice more than Italy). The reason is the low GDP, which is the main factor for distribution of cohesion funds.
There has been a lot of talking that the new EU long-term budget is going to introduce new control mechanisms over the spending of structural funds. For example, Germany proposed a strong conditionality between the quality of the rule of law in EU member countries and the disbursement of EU funds. However, the European Commission has not yet proposed a mechanism to put the proposal into practice. Most of the other proposals are tweaks of existing rules which doesn't seem to bother too much the Bulgarian government.