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EC urges Bulgaria to speed up RRP implementation, shift to clean energy

Jun 19, 2024, 4:31:10 PMArticle by Mihaela Miteva
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June 19 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said on Wednesday that it recommends that Bulgaria speed up the implementation of cohesion policy programmes and the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) in 2024 and 2025, while also reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and accelerating its clean energy transition.

EC urges Bulgaria to speed up RRP implementation, shift to clean energy
Photographer: Bogdan Hoyaux. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service.

By August 2026, Bulgaria should complete reforms and investments by boosting public administration efficiency and capacity, including at the regional level, improving procurement procedures quality and strengthening regulatory independence and functionality, the Commission said in its country-specific recommendations as part of the European Semester 2024 Spring Package.

The country must also quickly finalise the REPowerEU chapter and maintain focus on the agreed priorities in the mid-term review of cohesion policy programmes while leveraging the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform initiative to enhance competitiveness.

"Bulgaria faces several challenges related to the decarbonisation of the economy and energy production, sustainable transport as well as quality of education and skills. These could be further addressed beyond the scope of the recovery and resilience plan and cohesion policy programmes," the Commission said.

To tackle these issues, Bulgaria should transition to renewable energy in district heating, deploy wind installations and ensure sufficient storage capacities for a more flexible energy system. Strengthening the electricity grid by introducing smart grid elements and increasing interconnections with neighbouring countries is also essential.

"The postponed electricity market liberalisation – one of the essential decarbonisation reforms under the Recovery and Resilience Plan – impedes the transition to clean and affordable energy," the EC noted.

At the same time, energy poverty can be addressed through targeted measures to reduce the share of those unable to keep their homes adequately warm. Bulgaria should promote sustainable urban and railway transport, including by accelerating necessary infrastructure development.

Bulgaria is also advised to submit its medium-term fiscal-structural plan promptly. The country should limit net expenditure growth in 2025 to keep the general government deficit below 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) and maintain government debt at a cautious level, aligning with the reformed Stability and Growth Pact.

Lastly, the EC recommended that the country improve education and training, including for disadvantaged groups, by enhancing teacher training and implementing competence-based teaching and learning. Addressing labour shortages and improving worker skills are also needed to boost competitiveness and support the green transition.

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