Over the past years, Bulgaria has had difficulties making optimum use of EU structural funds. Nevertheless, after meeting Mr Borissov and Mr Donchev, I'm convinced that we are on the right path to get the most out of the Regional policy programmes for Bulgarian citizens. I thanked the Bulgarian Prime Minister for the sound proposals he made regarding the possible improvement of implementation of the programmes in his country.
The implementation of programmes is progressing in Bulgaria, which has absorbed 64.7% of its 2007-2013 budget in mid-December, compared to 54.9% in October. I assured Mr Borissov and Mr Donchev that the Commission is here to help Bulgaria in the most efficient way possible; the task force on low implementation that I set in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban policy when I entered office is currently working on additional ways to increase the take-up of European funds in the country.
One possible solution could be the expanded use of financial instruments, which have proven to be a very successful implementation tool in the programming period 2007-2013. Whilst growing, these instruments are relatively new to many public authorities, but they have a great potential and proven ability to deliver results.
I therefore encouraged the Bulgarian authorities to build on this positive experience in the new budgetary period, in order to get concrete and quicker positive results in terms of growth, jobs creation and quality of life for the Bulgarian people. We also agreed on doing the maximum for the remaining Bulgarian operational programmes for 2014-2020 to be adopted as soon as possible in the first months of 2015.
After this friendly and fruitful meeting, I am more optimistic than ever about the prospects of our cooperation with the Bulgarian authorities and about Bulgaria's future success in efficiently implementing EU programmes.