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Partnership for the accession of Bulgaria

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Partnership for the accession of Bulgaria

The aim of the Accession Partnership is to assist the Bulgarian authorities in their efforts to comply with the accession criteria. It covers in detail the priorities for accession preparations, in particular implementing the acquis, and forms the basis for programming pre-accession assistance from Community funds such as the Phare programme.

On 25 April 2005 Bulgaria signed its Treaty of Accession to the European Union. The objective is to welcome Bulgaria as a new member of the European Union in January 2007.

In its " Agenda 2000 " communication, the European Commission has drawn up a . series of proposals for strengthening the pre-accession strategy for all the candidate countries of central and eastern Europe (CEEC). The general aim of the strategy is to provide a coherent programme to prepare these countries for Union membership and more particularly:

  • to bring together the various forms of aid offered by the European Union within a single framework, the accession partnerships;
  • to familiarise applicants with European Union procedures and policies by offering them the opportunity to participate in Community programmes.


The objective of the accession partnership (adopted in March 1998 and revised in December 1999, in January 2002 and in May 2003) is to set out within a legal framework the working priorities defined in the Commission's 2002 Regular Report on Bulgaria's progress toward accession and with the road map, the financial resources available to help Bulgaria implement these priorities and the conditions which apply to that assistance. The partnership underpins a range of instruments aimed at supporting the efforts of candidate countries in the accession process.

These instruments include a national programme for adopting the Community acquis, joint assessment of medium-term economic policy priorities, a pact against organised crime, the national development plans as well as other sectoral plans necessary for participation in structural funds following membership, and for pre-accession implementation of ISPA and SAPARD. The accession partnership has served as a starting point for the development of a plan of action to strengthen Bulgaria's administrative and judicial capacities.

Although these instruments will not form an integral part of this partnership, their priorities will be compatible with it.

The implementation of the accession partnership will be monitored under the European Agreement between the European Union and Bulgaria.


The accession partnership priorities were reviewed in December 1999 (see p. 3 of the Annex to Decision 1999/857/EC). A final review was published in May 2003 (Decision 2003/396/EC) and forms the basis of the 2003 Commission report.

The revised accession partnership defines the priorities which Bulgaria should wholly or largely achieve by 2003-2004. They were decided jointly by the European Union and Bulgaria. The level of aid granted to Bulgaria will depend on the completion of these priorities.

In 2004, Bulgaria began work to meet the priorities set in its revised partnership. Progress has been made in the areas of public administration reform and reform of the judicial system, the privatisation process and alignment with EU legislation. Nevertheless, further efforts are still required, especially as regards priorities in the field of respect for human rights and the protection of minorities. In this respect, efforts need to be fostered with regard to improving the situation of the Roma community. Much also remains to be done to reduce subsidies to the energy and transport sectors. Improvements in the quality of public investment in infrastructure, education and health are still needed. Reform plans in the area of customs and tax administrations must be applied.

To find out more, see: Adoption of the Community Acquis


The support provided by the Phare programme and the other pre-accession instruments focuses on the priorities established in the accession partnership. For the years 2000-2004, total annual financial assistance to Bulgaria is around EUR 178 million annually from Phare, EUR 57.6 million from SAPARD, and between EUR 93 and EUR 127 million from ISPA.


The Phare Programme allocated EUR 1.54 billion to Bulgaria during the 1992-2003 period, including EUR 188.92 million in 2003. The Commission has granted Bulgaria Phare aid under the agreement signed in November 1999 concerning the closure of units 1 to 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. This agreement provides for a further EUR 200 million in aid for the period 2000-2006. A further EUR 140 million will be made available over the period 2004-2006, in line with the principle of EU solidarity with efforts to decommission certain nuclear installations and with the consequences. The 2004 Phare Programme for Bulgaria consists of an allocation of EUR 208.3 million for the National Programme, plus an allocation for nuclear decommissioning.

The 2004 Phare programme focuses on the following priorities:

  • Political criteria: projects for strengthening public administration at all levels and the judiciary (EUR 36 million); projects to improve transparency, financial control and the fight against corruption and fraud (EUR 8 million); projects for ethnic minorities, vulnerable groups and civil society (EUR 13 million).
  • Economic criteria: projects to promote economic growth and competitiveness and social cohesion (EUR 35 million).
  • Meeting the obligations of membership: projects to enhance the administrative and judicial capacity to implement and enforce legislative measures and assume the obligations of EU membership (EUR 42 million); projects to improve the strategic planning and effective utilisation of EU funds and prepare for structural funds (including implementation of EDIS) (EUR 12 million).

In addition, EUR 36 million from the Phare programme will be devoted to crossborder cooperation programmes on Bulgaria's borders with Greece (EUR 20 million), Romania (EUR 8 million), Turkey (EUR 3 million), Serbia & Montenegro (EUR 3 million) and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (EUR 2 million).

Pre-accession aid

From the year 2000, financial aid will include aid for agriculture and rural development (SAPARD) and a structural instrument (ISPA) which will give priority to transport and environmental measures. The Regulation adopted in June 1999 for the coordination of Phare, SAPARD and ISPA aid allows the Commission to carry out ex-post checks on contracts when it deems the partner country's financial supervision insufficient.

The indicative allocation from the Community for the implementation of the SAPARD programme in Bulgaria for 2004 is EUR 68.0 million. The allocation for 2003 was EUR 56.5 million. The main focus of the 2004 SAPARD programme is to prepare Bulgaria's agriculture for membership of the EU. Consequently, the remaining financial resources only will be spent on acquis-related measures.

The ISPA budget allocation for Bulgaria of just over EUR 100 million per year has been fully committed in each year since 2000 (with only a small shortfall in 2002). The budgetary commitment in 2003 was EUR 112.6 million and the indicative allocation for 2004 will be around EUR 135.4 million. The ISPA strategies were reviewed in 2003. In the case of transport infrastructure, the emphasis is on completing or upgrading the main trans-European road and rail networks, including crossborder connections. In the environment sector, the Bulgarian Government has focused on improving water quality via investments in waste water treatment, sewerage systems and water supply. Urban waste management and air pollution are also priority areas.


Commission Opinion COM(97)2008 finalNot published in the Official Journal


Council Decision 98/266/EC of 30.03.1998Official Journal L 121 of 23.04.1998

Decision 1999/857/EC Official Journal L 335 of 28.12.1999

Decision 2002/83/ECOfficial Journal L 44 of 14.02.2002

Decision 2003/396/EC Official Journal L 145 of 12.06.2003


Commission Opinion COM(97)2008 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(98)707 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(1999)501 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2000)701 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2001)700 final - SEC(2001)1744Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2002)700 final - SEC(2002)1400Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2003) 676 final - SEC (2002) 1210Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2004) 1199Not published in the Official Journal


Treaty of Accession of Bulgaria of 25 April 2005 - Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.2005 On 11 May 2005 the Bulgarian parliament ratified the treaty of accession to the European Union, which Bulgaria had signed in Luxembourg on 25 April 2005 after the European Parliament had given its assent on 13 April 2005. Bulgaria is scheduled to join the European Union on 1 January 2007.

Comprehensive monitoring report from the Commission COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005)1352

Monitoring report of May 2006 from the Commission COM(2006) 214 final - SEC(2006) 596

Communication from the Commission of 16 May 2006 "Monitoring report on the state of preparedness for EU membership of Bulgaria and Romania" COM (2006) 214 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Last updated: 23.01.2007