Bulgaria’s tight financial policy will help attract investment as the European Union’s poorest state works to modernize its cities, fight poverty and boost the economy, European Commission President Jose Barroso said.
It is in the interest of Bulgaria “to pursue fiscal consolidation,” and “keep the confidence of the financial markets,” which will “help it borrow at acceptable interest rates and finance its future,” Barroso told reporters in Sofia today.
Bulgaria has the second-lowest public debt in the 27-nation bloc after Estonia, at 15.3 percent of gross domestic product at the end of April. The government plans to narrow this year’s budget deficit to 1.3 percent of GDP from 2.1 percent in 2011. Peripheral nations are struggling to control finances as Greece’s debt burden threatens to destabilize the Balkan region and governments seek new revenue sources.
“A real push is needed on pension reform, fight against poverty, youth unemployment, administrative capacity, to improve living standards and keep the Bulgarian economy growing,” Barroso said.
Barroso visited Bulgaria to open new subway stations in the capital Sofia and archaeological excavations, dating as far back as 2 century A.D., which will be part of a subterranean museum. The project, co-funded by the EU, cost 16 million lev ($10.2 million).
Barroso urged the government to improve the efficiency of the judicial system, to help fight crime and corruption and ensure the fair distribution of EU aid.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said he is seeking 14 billion euros ($17.6 billion) in EU subsidies from 2014 to 2019, to build new roads, rail links, expand the subway and link the country’s natural gas grid with neighboring Romania and Greece to diversify fuel supplies.