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SOFIA (Bulgaria), November 24 (SeeNews) – Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Bulgaria continued to trail their peers from other EU countries in terms of innovation and improvement of skills, ranking second worst, the European Commission said.
“From a policy perspective, the progress made since 2008 in both skills and innovation is insufficient,” the European Commission said on Thursday in a report reviewing the performance of SMEs in member states.
“It is clear that the improvement of skills in SMEs and all forms of support for innovation should be a high priority for Bulgarian policymakers,” the Commission added.
The other area, in which Bulgaria performs well below the EU average is entrepreneurship. Despite the slightly above-average share of high-growth businesses, entrepreneurial activity in Bulgaria remains among EU’s lowest.
Early-stage entrepreneurial activity in Bulgaria is the third lowest in the EU, while opportunity-driven entrepreneurship is the second lowest.
Similarly, framework conditions for entrepreneurship score poorly, particularly in terms of education, with the entrepreneurship education in post-secondary curricula being the third lowest in the EU and having further declined in the last year, the Commission said.
SMEs play a particularly important role in Bulgaria, as they account for three quarters of the country’s employment and two thirds of total value added, according to the Commission. In both cases, this is about 9 percentage points above the EU average, the Commission said.
Bulgarian SME value added recorded a sharp growth over the 2012-2016 period. The positive trend is expected to continue, with an average annual growth rate of over 5 % in 2016-2018.
The outlook for SME employment is also positive, with a total increase of 2.4 % predicted in 2016-2018, which corresponds to the creation of about 34 700 new jobs.
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