Partnership Agreement between Sofia and Brussels discussed

National strategic document outlines the framework for managing funds under EU programmes during 2021-2027 period

In seven years, people will be able to take the train directly to Skopje once the railroad connecting Sofia to Gyueshevo has been modernised by 2027, which is the end of the next programming period for the EU. This is envisioned by the draft Partnership Agreement that Bulgaria is set to send in to Brussels to justify its request for €9.7bn over the next seven years and that has been released for public discussion.

The discussion period is scheduled to end on 11 November, according to the website strategy.bg.

The Partnership Agreement is the national strategic document outlining the framework for managing the funds that Bulgaria is poised to receive under EU programmes during the 2021-2027 programming period. It defines the country’s strategy and priorities as a Member State within the scope of the EU Cohesion Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

In terms of railway infrastructure, the country plans to continue its efforts towards building an integrated and operationally compatible railroad network across Bulgaria as part of the Trans-European Rail Network. The planned routes include Bulgarian-Serbian border – Sofia – Plovdiv, which will complete the railway corridor from the Turkish border to the Serbian border, and building a road running from Sofia to the border with North Macedonia via Radomir and Gyueshevo, which will connect the networks of Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Also in the plans is getting the main conventional TEN-T railway network to 50% completion rate, up from 11% right now; getting the main TEN-T road network to 100% completion rate, as compared to 50% at the moment; reducing the number of casualties of road accidents by 25% compared to 2018 data (8.7 per 100,000 residents) to no more than 6.5 per 100,000 residents; reducing the number of people severely injured in road accidents by 30% compared to 2018 data (28 per 100,000 residents) to no more than 20 per 100,000 residents; increasing the share of railway transport to 22% of the total amount of transported cargo compared to 15.5% in 2019.

In terms of road infrastructure, a 100% high-speed connectivity between municipal centres should be achieved by 2027 as well as development of port and airport infrastructure through public-private partnerships. Completing the Hemus Motorway is of great significance for the economic growth of North Bulgaria and the entire transport industry, the project notes. Revenues from road charges will continue to be invested into the development and maintenance of road infrastructure. In relation to that, the revenue generated through the introduction of toll charges for heavy-duty vehicles will contribute to the completion of the main Trans-European Road Network in Bulgaria.

Over the coming years, the focus will be placed on completing the highway connections in North Bulgaria with an eye to improving road safety in that part of the country and providing conditions for traffic to and from Varna (Hemus Motorway) and north-south bound on the Danube Bridge 1 – Rousse – Veliko Tarnovo – Shipka Tunnel – South Bulgaria route as well as the Danube Bridge 1 – Vidin – Sofia – South Bulgaria route. Efforts will also be directed towards improving road quality, with a focus on highest-class roads as well as improving connectivity and accessibility to the Trans-European Transport Network and important economic hubs (transport infrastructure facilities, industrial zones, etc.) through construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of road connections.

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