Bulgaria Investor UK Action Plan

The UK is firmly committed to Bulgaria 's accession to the EU as soon as possible and strongly supports the associated process of reform. Britain looks forward to the day when Bulgaria takes its place alongside other members of the Union . This Action Plan sets out a range of practical UK initiatives to further these shared goals over the next year. It has been drawn up in conjunction with the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It brings together the work of the UK Government as a whole. The plan was launched by the former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, and the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Mrs Mihailova, in London on 6 March 2001 .


Background

The UK already supports Bulgaria 's progress towards EU accession through its contribution to the EU's policy instruments including Phare, SAPARD and ISPA. This Action Plan is designed to complement the Accession Partnership (December 1999) and the Bulgarian National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis.

UK Political Support for Enlargement

The United Kingdom strongly supports the enlargement of the European Union, which it believes is the biggest and most important challenge facing the EU over the next 5 years. This will allow our continent to be re-united, after the long decades of artificial division imposed by the Soviet Union . It will thus be an enormous contribution to the stability, security and prosperity of Europe as a whole. Enlarging the Single Market to include over 500 million consumers will provide new opportunities to businesses throughout Europe ; and increase the choices open to consumers. Tackling trans-border issues such as crime and environmental population together is the only way to achieve success: EU Enlargement will allow us to do this much more effectively. For the United Kingdom , the enlargement of the European Union is not a luxury - it is essential, if we are to make real the dreams of those who believed in a united Europe emerging from the rubble of the Second World War.

Economic Issues

Bulgaria is making good progress towards a dynamic market economy. Macroeconomic stability has been maintained through the implementation of sound monetary and fiscal policies under the Currency Board. Against this positive backdrop, the UK Government is ready to contribute in the following areas:

Trade and Investment

Commercial relations between the two countries will be vigorously developed, on the basis of transparency and open markets. Two-way trade and investment will be actively encouraged through a programme of events, including:

  • Regional seminars in the UK with Chambers of Commerce, Business Links etc explaining the opportunities which exist in Bulgaria .
  • Groups of British companies exhibiting at Trade Fairs in Bulgaria , e.g. during AGRA and Plovdiv International Trade Fair.
  • Five British trade missions between April 2001 and March 2002.
  • Regional commercial events throughout Bulgaria exploring ways to boost ties between British and Bulgaria .
  • A visit to Bulgaria by representatives of a British Development Agency to share experience on attracting high-quality inward investment.
  • Continuation of projects on Consumer Protection and helping the SME sector

Regional Policy

  • ISPA - 200 million euro is earmarked for Bulgaria annually under ISPA, equally divided between major infrastructure projects in Transport and the Environment. The UK-led Twinning project, designed to ensure that as many Bulgarian projects submitted for ISPA funding are successful as possible, has just been extended until the end of 2001.
  • The UK will fund a Regional Policy Roadshow to visit towns across Bulgaria to explain to local government, local businesses and the wider community how EU Regional Policy works and how to access the substantial funds available.

Financial systems

  • State Aids - The UK is providing a Pre-Accession Adviser on the management of State Aids. This issue is critical to the functioning of the Single Market. The twinning project will bring Bulgaria fully in line with EU policy.
  • Audit - A UK Pre-Accession Adviser will go to Bulgaria later this year to help with the development of the Bulgarian National Audit Office. This project will provide Bulgaria with an independent and professional external audit institution, capable of giving Parliament, the Government and the EU reliable and high quality information on the effective use of public funds.

CFSP

The UK has regular high level exchanges with Bulgaria as a prospective member of the EU and NATO on CFSP issues. The UK will intensify this dialogue and exchange experiences. We welcome Bulgaria 's contribution to the work of the Stability Pact and to the 'Europeanisation' of the region, where the UK will continue it's active programme of activities.

Justice and Home Affairs

The Bulgarian Government is determined to address public concern about crime, to support the strengthening of the judiciary and to tackle the problem of corruption at all levels in society. The UK Government proposes to contribute through:

  • The appointment of a senior UK advisor to the Minister of Interior for two years.
  • Increased contacts between the British and Bulgarian judiciary through a programme of seminars and reciprocal visits.
  • Cooperation between the UK Serious Crime Squad and the Bulgarian Investigation Service, initially through reciprocal visits.
  • Continuing cooperation in the police sector, helping the Bulgarian Police to implement a nationwide system of community policing drawing on the experience of the long-running Know How Fund project in Plovdiv .
  • Practical implementation of the Readmission Agreement, which will be signed later this year between the UK and Bulgaria .

Drugs

Following the successful visit of the UK Anti Drugs Coordinator, Mr Keith Hellawell, the UK has increased its cooperation with Bulgaria in the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime. Building on the successes which Bulgaria has achieved in the last two years, the UK will:

  • Provide a UK expert for two years under the EU Twinning Programme, to help Bulgaria 's develop a coordinated approach to combating drugs, from collecting intelligence through to fighting drug abuse.
  • Continue the close operational co-operation between the Drugs Liaison Officer and Bulgarian counterparts leading to even more seizures of heroin.

Political Issues

The UK will fund a high-level Wilton Park/European Institute Conference in Sofia in March 2002 focusing on EU Enlargement and South Eastern Europe .

Minorities

The European Commission has already judged that Bulgaria meets the Copenhagen political criteria. Britain is keen to help the Bulgarian government in its efforts to make further concrete progress in implementing the Roma Framework Programme; and to establish institutions which will work to maximise the opportunities available to the Roma community and to tackle the difficulties faced by Roma in every area of life. Projects include:

  • Seminars on how minorities are portrayed in the Media (to avoid stereo-typing, and encourage positive role models).
  • Study visits to the UK to see different approaches to the protection of minority rights, with the emphasis on integration through education.
  • Integrated pre-school classes for Bulgarian and Roma children to increase social integration and access to mainstream education.
  • Continuing cooperation with the UK Commission for Racial Equality.
  • Development of employment opportunities for ethnic minorities.

Child Care

The British Government will continue to support the Bulgarian government in implementing its new child care policy, based on the new Children's Act. Working in close coordination with other donors, in particular the EU and World Bank, the UK will:

  • Provide an advisor on child welfare issues to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
  • Take forward the joint project at the Children's home in Gomotartsi, designed to develop better systems for the care of children in institutions.
  • Fund a project managed by the Save the Children Fund to identify alternatives to institutional care.

Public Administration

The UK supports the Bulgarian government, both local and central, in its commitment to creating a public administration capable of preparing Bulgaria to meet the obligations of EU membership. Areas of cooperation include:

  • Developing a system of performance appraisal, pay and grading in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy which could serve as a model throughout the Civil Service.
  • Identifying ways to encourage open government. This will include the establishment of One-Stop shops to provide businesses and citizens with advice on government services, and launching workshops to develop a process of public consultation on legislation designed to make it more it more transparent and effective.
  • Consolidation of projects with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy to enhance the skills base of the Ministry and its agencies. The aim is to develop policy and deliver social services appropriate to a market economy.
  • Establishment of a network of pilot Citizens Advice and Information Centers to improve access to information, advice and advocacy.
  • Seminars on topics of relevance e.g., Standards in Public Life, Project management, tax credits.

Environment and Agriculture

Bulgaria is blessed with large tracts of beautiful and unspoilt countryside. But it faces the major task of bringing its environmental protection practice up to EU standards. The UK will work with the Bulgarian government to achieve their goal of mutually reinforcing agricultural and environmental policies which are EU compliant:

  • Leading for a second year, a twinning project which assists the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture in administrative reform and legislative alignment in the area of agriculture and fisheries. This includes provision of a UK Pre-Accession Adviser and a number of short term experts and study visits to the UK .
  • Assisting the Bulgarian Government for a second year in a twinning project to update their pesticide registration and testing facilities.
  • Strengthening capacity for environmental project development work thus enabling Bulgaria to access EU Structural Funds.
  • Piloting a Waste Management system in two economically deprived areas of Bulgaria , to establish a model for environmentally sustainable Waste Management Services. This could subsequently be provided nationwide, in accordance with Bulgaria 's legal and policy framework.
  • Promoting the development of environmental education and CITES projects.
  • Working with the Bulgarian authorities to ensure the safe decommissioning of Kozlodoui Units 1 - 4, including a UK bilateral commitment of 1.5million Euro to the EBRD Decommissioning Fund.
  • Funding study visits e.g. to help establish an organic foods standards certification agency, and to improve environmental planning.
  • Looking for future environmental twinning projects.

Education and Culture

The UK and Bulgaria signed an agreement on Education and Culture in 2001 to continue the long term programme of cultural events and exchanges between both countries.

The British Council will maintain its high profile in Bulgaria . Its move to new premises will enable it to promote best practice in English Language Teaching to assist the continuing improvement of English language in schools. The Council also operates the well known 'European Young Lawyers Scheme'.

The 'Chevening Scholarships' programme is well regarded in Bulgaria . We will continue to use the funds available to target priority areas for Bulgaria in terms of EU accession, in particular by offering two scholarships per year to attend the University of Sussex DICES course.

The Wider Picture

The Bulgarian Parliament faces the challenge of handling a significant amount of legislation in order to make its laws EU compliant. It will also need to develop its own approach to scrutinising EU business. The UK is keen to share its experience with Bulgaria in these areas and will encourage further links between the relevant UK committees and their Bulgarian counterparts.

In addition to the existing five British Pre-Accession Advisers, we will seek out new counterparts for the Phare 2001 Twinning Programme and consider projects in other related areas e.g. encouraging links between the Cabinet Office in London and the Council of Ministers in Sofia .

Future Action

This Action Plan provides the basis for ongoing cooperation between the UK and Bulgaria . It will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

Source: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

www.fco.gov.uk

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