Bulgaria submits recovery plan to EU Commission

SOFIA, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will submit its recovery plan to the European Commission on Friday to allow access to billions of euros of pandemic aid, interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev said.

The plans are a prerequisite to receive cash from the EU's 800-billion-euro fund, set up to help member states recover from the coronavirus pandemic and give the continent a greener, more digital and more resilient economy.

Bulgaria, hit by a political crisis amid rising coronavirus infections, is one of the last EU countries to submit its national plan, under which it is eligible for some 6.6 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in grants.

Inconclusive elections in April and July failed to produce a regular government, delaying submission of the national scheme for months.

Bulgaria hold its third general elections this year on Nov. 14, but the interim administration approved the plan and decided to submit it to unlock much-needed aid.

"We hope that we are opening the road for detailed negotiations with the European Commission that will lead to the plan's acceptance so that fresh funds can flow to Bulgarian business," Yanev told a government meeting on Thursday.

With the additional investment the plan is expected to generate, Bulgaria's economy can expect inflows of more than 10.7 billion euros in the next six years, interim deputy premier Atanas Pekanov told reporters.

The interim government is facing tough talks in Brussels on its carbon neutrality goals and steps to revamp its corruption-prone judiciary.

Yanev's cabinet has set 2038 and 2040 as indicative dates to close coal-fired power plants. These produce 40% of Bulgaria's electricity and provide livelihoods for more than 100,000 people.

On Wednesday, miners and workers marched through Sofia demanding that coal-fired power generation should be preserved at least until 2040.

The plan also outlines reforms needed to strengthen the rule of law and combat widespread corruption.

Pekanov said tough talks lay ahead and he declined to say comment when Bulgaria might get the green light from Brussels.
Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Giles Elgood

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