site.btaUPDATED BTA Conference Discusses Development of South-Central Planning Region
A regional conference under the project "Europe in Bulgaria: A Common Future" is being held today at the National Press Club of the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) in Plovdiv to discuss the development of the South-Central Planning Region.
Participants include the Plovdiv Regional Governor Angel Stoev, the Deputy Mayor for Education, Business Development and European Policies at Plovdiv Municipality Stefan Stoyanov, the Executive Director of the Trakia Economic Zone Plamen Panchev, the Manager of the Plovdiv Regional Information Centre Neli Karadzhova, representatives of the managing bodies of operational programmes as well as of cross-border cooperation programmes and others.
They discuss the results and good practices achieved in Plovdiv region, as well as the lessons learned from the 2014-2020 programming period; the new developments in the cohesion policy for the period 2021-2027 and how it helps the region to overcome the challenges it faces through investments in infrastructure, education, administrative capacity, access to services, education, employment, social inclusion and health.
The project is implemented by BTA with the support of the European Commission. Its main objective is to provide information to the general public on cohesion policy, the role of different stakeholders in the implementation of European Union (EU) policy priorities, local performance and opportunities during the programming period 2021-2027.
Addressing the participants, Kiril Valchev said that the most important investment Bulgaria needs to make with Europe's common money for the common future is in people. He said that better education for the people of Bulgaria is important so that they can benefit from greater opportunities. He gave the example of the need for staff in the Trakia Economic Zone.
"The big challenge before us is how to use the funds that Europe has allocated for Bulgaria also for specialized education, for specialists who are needed in different fields", Valchev said. "Another challenge is how these funds can be used for Bulgarians who are ready to return to Bulgaria after they have received their education abroad or have sought a living outside the country but are ready to return home".
In Valchev's words, the funds from Europe should also be directed to traditional Bulgarian communities abroad. In his opinion, in connection with the war in Ukraine, on the one hand, Bulgaria can help its diaspora in Ukrainian Bessarabia, and on the other - these Bulgarians can help by returning to the "land of their ancestors" and participate in the future of Europe and Bulgaria.
Head of the Managing Authority of the Human Resources Development Programme (HRDP) Tsvetan Spasov: HRDP in Plovdiv has reached almost every tenth resident, informed Spasov. The total reach of the programme in Plovdiv was 64,023 people. The number of young people covered in training, employment and activation was 5,550. The HRDP has covered 7,474 unemployed people. The number of elderly and disabled people who benefited from the service of "Patronage Care" was 8,200. The HRDP also supported 19,438 people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plovdiv Regional Governor Angel Stoev: Plovdiv region is a positive example of how individual regions in Bulgaria should develop. Plovdiv region is home to about 10% of Bulgaria's population and contributes 10% of Bulgaria's GDP. We are actually managing, perhaps on the basis of our geographical position, to develop economic zones extremely well, and the best example is the Trakia Economic Zone. The district is a centre of attraction for people from neighbouring districts such as Pazardzhik, Smolyan, Kardzhali, Stara Zagora and other distant places. This is creating a boom in construction and services and the city is beginning to breathe. For this reason, we are working on many projects such as the Urban Railway, which should provide connectivity for the city of Plovdiv with neighbouring municipalities and economic zones. Stoev said that the municipality is working on the development of Plovdiv Airport. According to him, an obstacle in the latter is the frequent changes of governments and the interference of political factors.
The Plovdiv region is a traditional agricultural producer and has a very large number of private producers, which are at a medium and high level in terms of the scale of agricultural production and the quality of the products produced, Stoev said. He added that the state, through the Ministry of Agriculture, also contributes in this respect and tries to support farmers. I believe in the future of agricultural production of Plovdiv region and combined with the development of the industry we have a bright future. We want to be the locomotive that will pull the economic development of the whole Bulgaria in the direction of united Europe, Stoev said.
Neli Karadzhova, Manager of the Regional Information Centre: EU projects with a total value of over BGN 1.2 billion were implemented in the Plovdiv region during the 2014-2020 programming period, with over 75% of these funds being grants. The largest number of approved and financed projects is in Plovdiv municipality - 2,646 euro projects worth nearly BGN 585 million. A total of BGN 465 million of them are grants.
Stefan Stoyanov, Deputy Mayor: "Education, Business Development and European Policies" of Plovdiv Municipality: In the last seven months, the municipal administration in Plovdiv has submitted projects for more than BGN 70 million. Although the country's economy has grown dramatically over the last 25 years, the needs of regions like Plovdiv, which are developing rapidly and dynamically, are much greater than the capacities of municipal administrations and the budgets they have." Here, state and EU policies literally influence our daily lives in a very qualitative way. A good example from the previous operational period is the direct investment and improvement of infrastructure in certain neighbourhoods of the city, where underground and above-ground infrastructure has been replaced, many cycle paths have been built and the green system has been improved. Our big expectations from the new programming period are targeted investments in the green system and in transport, The key project for Plovdiv is the construction of an urban railway, its connection to public transport and the further urbanisation of the Plovdiv metropolitan area.