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EU Commission urges Bulgaria to effectively support SMEs, self-employed

EU Commission urges Bulgaria to effectively support SMEs, self-employed European Commission headquarters in Brussels; Author: Radomir Ralev

SOFIA (Bulgaria), May 20 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said on Wednesday it has recommended to Bulgaria to provide effective support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed, in line with the EU's 'general escape clause', which sets necessary measures to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bulgaria needs to streamline and accelerate the procedures needed to back SMEs and self-employed in the context of the coronavirus crisis and ensure their continued access to finance and flexible payment arrangements, the Commission said in its latest European Semester 2020 report. 

The country has also been recommended to front-load mature public investment projects and promote private investment to foster the economic recovery after the crisis. 

When economic conditions allow, Bulgaria should pursue fiscal policies aimed at achieving prudent medium-term fiscal positions and ensuring debt sustainability, while enhancing investment, the report read. 

The Commission also urges Bulgaria to mobilise adequate financial resources to strengthen the resilience, accessibility and capacity of the health system, improve access to distance working and promote digital skills and address the shortcomings in the adequacy of the minimum income scheme.

The coronavirus crisis put an additional burden on the Bulgarian health system, already characterised by limited accessibility stemming from low public financing, limited health insurance coverage, a low number of nurses, and an uneven geographical distribution of health workers, the report read.

"The crisis brought further up the importance of digitalisation and innovation, where Bulgaria, and in particular its SMEs, is performing well below the EU average," the Commission noted.

It advises Bulgaria to focus on investment on the green and digital transition, in particular on clean and efficient production and use of energy and resources, environmental infrastructure and sustainable transport, contributing to a progressive decarbonisation of the economy, including in the coal regions. 

According to the Commission, the country needs to ensure the effective functioning of the insolvency framework and still needs to step up its efforts to ensure adequate risk assessment, mitigation, effective supervision and enforcement of the anti-money laundering framework.