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Statement of the Union for Private Economic Enterprise, a nationally representative organization of employers in the Republic of Bulgaria to the to the European Social Fund regarding to the amount of the lower financial limit in annunciation of procedures for financing by the European Social Fund

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

The Union for Private Economic Enterprise (UPEE) as a nationally representative organization of employers in the Republic of Bulgaria, representing the interests of over 5,000 companies, welcomes and fully supports the initiatives of the European Social Fund.

Over 95% of the members of the Union are micro, small and medium enterprises and craftsmen. This is the group of companies that most need financial support to qualify and retrain their staff in order to remain competitive and to grow.

Taking into account the forthcoming challenges facing all European economies, including for Bulgaria, related to digitalization, the transition to a circular economy and the lack of staff with certain professions, we believe that the ESF should focus on and expand funding opportunities in the following areas:

  1. – Improvement of digital skills, including knowledge of providing and complying with protocols for information security (cybersecurity) of employees in micro, small and medium enterprises;
  2. – Qualification and retraining of staff in green professions in order to achieve a smooth transition to a circular economy;
  3. – Retraining of staff in occupations sought by employers and on the labor market.

From its 30 years of experience as a nationally representative employers’ organization, the Union for Private Economic Enterprise confidently states the indisputable benefits of ESF actions to support SMEs, which have neither the financial nor the administrative capacity to cope alone in a highly competitive market environment.

Based on the conclusions made as a result of many years of research among the members of the Union, we find that setting a high financial limit when announcing funding procedures is a burden to applying for both micro and small enterprises and for those who do not state the need for more funding. Therefore, we believe that the reduction of the lower financial limit of BGN 50,000, e.g. to BGN 10,000 or 20,000 will expand the possibility for micro and small enterprises to apply for funding and as a whole will increase the number of funded proposals, which will lead to a higher result in achieving the objectives of the fund.

We hope that the above mentioned proposals will be reflected in the planning of the European Social Fund and the measures it will support from 2021.