site.btaEC to Provide Bulgaria with EUR 45 Mln for Further Implementation of Pilot Project for Asylum, Return Procedures
The European Commission Wednesday welcomed the progress made by Bulgaria over the past three months on the pilot project for asylum and return procedures. The Commission is providing Bulgaria with new financial support to the amount of EUR 45 million for the implementation of the pilot project, the Commission said in a press release. The funds will be added to the national programme under the Border Management and Visa Policy home affairs funding.
The pilot project in Bulgaria was launched in March 2023 building on good practices and experience in the areas of asylum, returns, border management and international cooperation. The full roll-out of the pilot project is foreseen by September 2023.
According to the operational update, Bulgaria has been taking operational steps with the Commission's support to improve the accelerated asylum procedures and has designated a safe countries of origin list, in line with the EU rules. “To streamline the implementation of the asylum and return procedures, Bulgaria is exploring the possibility of issuing a negative decision on international protection jointly with a return decision. The authorities are working on the digitalisation of the asylum and return systems, with the support of the EU Agencies and Commission services.
“Bulgaria has also strengthened the cooperation with the European Agency for Asylum (EUAA) in the areas of asylum and reception. A revision of the EUAA Operating Plan for Bulgaria is foreseen to be concluded this summer. Bulgaria has also stepped up the cooperation with Frontex. This includes a Roadmap to make use of the Agency's full capacity for border management and returns with additional resources, such as standing corps and technical equipment. Frontex has already provided additional support to Bulgaria through return counselors and interpreters. Bulgaria and Frontex will also sign a Joint Action Plan on Return.
“Bulgaria has also strengthened the cooperation with Europol to counter-smuggling networks and to limit the secondary movements within the EU. Bulgaria already set up a national mechanism for information sharing and will establish shortly an Operational Task Force for countering migrant smuggling,” the operational update reads.