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Bulgaria to Submit the Recovery and Sustainability Plan on October 15

At the Annual Business Meeting with the Government, the Cabinet announced that it would set several dates for the end of coal energy between 2035 and 2040.

The caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev officially confirmed at the business meeting with the government, organized by Capital, that Bulgaria will submit its version of the Recovery and Sustainability Plan in Brussels on Friday. The country is the last in the European Union, along with the Netherlands, that has not yet submitted such a plan to the European Commission, although the preliminary deadlines were in the first half of the year. The first funds of a total of over BGN 12 billion will actually enter the country in the first half of 2022 at the earliest.

If the document is voted on Thursday, the cabinet will also set an indicative date for the end of coal mining and the use of coal-fired power plants: a key requirement of the EC to approve the plan. “Currently, the plan sets 2038 as the date, which is subject to negotiation and may become 2040,” Yanev explained. Later it became clear that an opportunity would be given for an earlier date: 2035, which was also a proposal of employers’ organizations.

In response to a question about possible pressure from the EC to move the date even earlier – before 2030, the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for the process Atanas Pekanov pointed out that we have given an indicative date for full release. “The pressure will be great, no doubt, we have to see where we will find a point of understanding,” he admitted.


Another unresolved issue

“We will commit to change. Not only economic reforms, the EC wants to see clear reforms in the judiciary,” said President Rumen Radev, who is also taking part in the first panel of the conference.

Pekanov explained that the commission’s initial opinion that it was not right for an official cabinet to submit such a long-term document had evolved. “This has changed in view of the political situation. Now begins the process of two months of negotiations or less to close these two topics,” Pekanov explained, referring to the energy transition and judicial reform.

Prime Minister Yanev himself acknowledged that there is little that can be done on the justice issue without parliament. But if there is one in a month, he will be able to quickly take an opinion on the negotiation process with the EC. Pekanov himself confirmed that the new plan will also be submitted for approval to the new parliament. If he changes anything, negotiations with the EC will obviously continue.


What remains and what changes?

From Pekanov’s speech it became clear that the projects for a steam-gas power plant, a renewable energy fund, as well as a test project for thermal energy remain in the energy part. Energy Minister Andrei Zhivkov, who is expected to work out the transitional steps in the coming months, explained that “the big missing links in the current strategies are the topic of decarbonisation and nuclear energy. These are the two topics we need to build on.”

The program for the business is expected to change, as the grant schemes will reach BGN 900 million at the expense of the financial instruments, which will be reduced to a little over BGN 300 million. “The short-term effect (of the plan) the program for business, where it will have a striking effect,” said Deputy Prime Minister Pekanov.

Following the submission of the plan in Brussels, the EC has two months to turn the document into a treaty, after which the EU Council has another month to approve it before it is signed. At best, the first advances on it will most likely start coming in the first half of next year.