BTA News

BTA’s “Europe in the Balkans: A Common Future” Conference Presents European Projects in Shumen

Shumen Deputy Regional Governor Neli Georgieva said that it is important and useful for citizens, businesses and local communities to receive up-to-date information on the latest developments on the EU Cohesion Policy for the  2021-2027 period. She expressed hope that significant projects will be implemented in Shumen Region during the new programming period.

Shumen Deputy Mayor Nikolay Kolev congratulated BTA on organizing such a conference, noting that the common future and partnership between municipalities, regions and countries is embedded as a concept in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, in the Concepts for Integrated Territorial Investments, and others. He noted that it is important for the residents of Shumen Municipality to improve their standard of living, which is related to the implementation of projects that have the highest added value to the community.

Irena Stefanova, Manager of the Regional Information Centre (RIC), said that Shumen has managed to establish itself as a safe place for information regarding EU funding. She stated that under Operational Programme Human Resources Development, 22 contracts were concluded with nine beneficiaries for over BGN 8.2 million, while under Operational Programme Food and Basic Material Support 8 contracts with seven municipalities have been concluded for a total of BGN 8.1 million. Stefanova pointed out that there is an increase in the number of projects compared to the 2007-2013 programming period, which is due to the experience gained from the previous period, as well as the extraordinary procedures that were announced to overcome the COVID pandemic. Stefanova noted that the RIC has also been actively working with young people, having held a number of initiatives to еncourage them to look for funding sources for their business ideas.

Smyadovo Mayor Ivanka Petrova said that the municipality has attracted nearly BGN 43 million under EU projects and programmes over the past 12 years, which is approximately seven times the annual budget of the municipality. Petrova stated that with funding from EU projects over the years, the infrastructure in the municipality has been changed. With regard to partnerships with other municipalities, she pointed out that over the years, Smyadovo Municipality has implemented several projects, mostly under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

Prof Tsveteslava Veselinova Ignatova-Ivanova, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Shumen University, presented the Let’s Cycle at the Black Sea Project, financed by the cross-border Operational Programme Black Sea Basin 2014-2020. “The aim of the project was to promote business and entrepreneurship in the Black Sea region in the sectors of tourism and culture, with an emphasis on bicycle tourism and crafts,” said Ignatova. She stated that the university has won a new cross-border project with the Turkish municipality of Sakarya related to how algae can be made into biofertilizers.

The project “Europe in the Balkans: A Common Future” is implemented by BTA with support from the European Commission. It builds on a past project, “Europe in Bulgaria: A Common Future”, and aims to foster a better understanding of the role of the cohesion policy in the Balkans; to raise awareness of projects funded by the EU through the Cohesion Funds; promote dialogue on the results of the projects at local level and boost civic participation in issues related to cohesion policy.

So far conferences have been held in Ruse, Razgrad, Veliko Tarnovo, Silistra, Gabrovo, Burgas, Sliven, Yambol, Haskovo, Stara Zagora, Kazanlak, Kyustendil, Pernik, Samokov, Varna, Blagoevgrad, and Targovishte and cross-border conferences in Bucharest, Edirne, Skopje, Bosilegrad, and Thessaloniki. More conferences will be held until August.

The “Europe in the Balkans: A Common Future” project is funded with EUR 348,871. To achieve the project’s aims, BTA is using a media mix and expects to reach out to between 700,000 and 1 million people in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece and Turkiye.