Bulgaria experienced a turbulent transition in the 1990s, but today it is one of the most fiscally disciplined EU states. During the first decade of the century, average annual growth accelerated and the country built fiscal buffers, all the while reducing its public debt, which is one of the lowest among EU members. The economy is recovering after the global crisis thanks to external and domestic factors including investment through EU-funded projects, labour market improvements and low inflation.
To boost productivity and close the gaps with EU levels of prosperity, Bulgarian policy makers need to place an emphasis on education, innovation, regulatory certainty, competition and the judiciary. Productivity growth is also the key to mitigating the effects of Bulgaria’s severe demographic challenge (caused by a close to 20% population decline since 1985) along with reforms to improve employment opportunities, boost growth, and keep public debt in check.
Co-operation with the OECD
Bulgaria has co-operated with the Organisation via thematic initiatives and a country-specific programme since the early stages of transition. This co-operation has been developing through the years based on demand and mutual benefit. Currently, Bulgaria is active in the OECD SEE regional programme and participates in statistical reporting and information systems, benchmarking exercises such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), publications and policy reviews.
Bulgaria expressed its wish to become an OECD member for the first time in 1992 and has stated its interest in acceding to the OECD in official letters from successive Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs over the last decade. During his visit to the OECD in 2017, President Radev renewed Bulgaria’s request to accede to the Organisation. The preparation for accession to the OECD is coordinated by a dedicated inter-ministerial committee and has been included as one of the priorities in the Government Programme for Stable Development for the period 2014-2020.
Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General with Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, 2017
source: Government of Bulgaria
Participation in OECD Bodies and adherence to OECD standards
Bulgaria’s engagement with the OECD also encompasses participation in OECD bodies and legal instruments. Through this form of co-operation, Bulgaria benefits from and contributes to dialogue with senior officials from member and partner countries to advance ideas and review progress in specific policy areas.
Bulgaria was among the first non-OECD Members to accede to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in 1999. In 2016, Bulgaria accepted the OECD invitation to participate in the G20/OECD Project on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs as an Associate. In the field of taxation, Bulgaria is a member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. Bulgaria recently joined the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, the Multilateral Agreement on Exchange of Information for Tax purposes and signed the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.
Bulgaria also participates in other bodies and instruments and is part of (or has outstanding requests for participation in) the bodies and instruments of the OECD Framework for the Consideration of Prospective Members.