Vaccination efforts have brightened the outlook for the European economy, but slow rollout rates still pose a significant downside risk. Overall, the European Commission expects GDP to grow by 3.7% in 2021 in the EU and 2.7% in Bulgaria. Despite lingering economic uncertainty, Belgian KBC Group has decided to expand its operations in Bulgaria. Another ray of optimism is low-cost Wizz Air's plans to open a new seasonal base in Burgas from June with 7 extra routes, including Dortmund, Tel Aviv, and Eindhoven. In politics, the government extended the term of office of the competition authority's administration from mid-2021 to 2023, cementing the current cabinet's influence in the CPC beyond April's elections.
Economic growth to accelerate in the third quarter
According to the European Commission's winter economic forecast, GDP growth in Bulgaria will accelerate from 0.8% in the first quarter of 2021 to 5.5% in the third quarter on the back of strong domestic demand and a recovery in foreign tourism as the economy gradually re-opens in the first half of the year. Unsurprisingly, there are many downside risks, but there are also some possible positive developments - the forecast excludes the effect of the Recovery and Resilience Plan on public investment.
KBC to acquire NN Group's business in Bulgaria
Belgium-based financial group KBC said that it has agreed to buy Dutch NN Group's pension and life insurance business in Bulgaria for 77.7 million euro. KBC already owns United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) and is also active on the insurance market through companies of the DZI brand.
Competition authority's current members get extra tenure
Parliament extended the term of office of members of the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) from 5 to 7 years. Until now, the current members of the commission were supposed to leave office by the middle of this year. Now, they will stay until 2023. Moreover, the CPC members received a kind of immunity - now, they cannot be released from duty due to incorrect application of the law, meaning that it doesn't matter if they break the law or not. Unfortunately, the CPC acts under the rule of the current ruling cabinet, makes contradictory and weak decisions, and has not shown any results in fighting monopolies or cartels.