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Cohesion policy good and bad practices

Introduction: Lithuania (along with the other Baltics) is the success story of EIJ structural fund absorption.Bulgaria (along with Romania) is the worst performer.Lithuania has contracted projects for 87% (‚¬6_4 billion) of available funds as of November 2012 and paid out 54% (‚¬4 billion) to beneficiaries.

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Bulgaria absorbed only ‚¬2 billion of an available ‚¬9. 5 billion between 2007 and 2011. Key factors affecting absorption capacity of structural funds: I _ Use of pre-accesslon funds 2 Political will 3. wealth/polltlcal legitimacy of regions . Human resources 5. Knowledge of available funds 6. corruption and transparency 7. r Is It Just a question of TIME (and size)? Bulgaria: Joined EU in 2007 having spent very little ot its pre-accession aid. Multiple corruption and transparency scandals: tunds are withheld and projects are delayed. Change ot government in July 2009 with creation ot new administrative units to handle structural funds. The quality of human resources is low in regional/municipal administrations: 4% speak English, the same people used for planning as for valuation, 201 1 sees improvements: 27 municipal information centres set up, number of prosecutions over misappropriation of funds increasing (but the absorption rate slightly lower than 2010).

Lithuania: ELI member since May 2004. Population 3. 2 million compared to Bulgaria’s 7. 5 million. Flexible economy: experienced rapid growth before the 2009 crisis (with help of pre-accesslon fundsL and rebounded relatively quickly after huge contraction. In 2004-06 priority was accorded to spending EIJ money according to all rules and procedures. Start of 007-2013 programming period absorption rate was similar to EUIO average (approx. 45%)

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