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Frontpage News 2008 Highly popular spring call in Bulgaria

Highly popular spring call in Bulgaria

The preliminary results of the Bulgaria's €17 million open call for projects this spring was concluded with a press conference on 28 May. Bulgarian Minister of Finance Plamen Oresharski expressed belief that the projects to be supported under the EEA Grants would contribute to strengthening Bulgaria's capacity in Europe.

More than 260 project proposals were submitted under Bulgaria's highly popular €17 million call for proposals launched on 23 January this year. By end-April, a vast array of Bulgarian NGOs, public and private sector bodies had submitted applications for grants to realise projects in the public benefit. The call was also open for partnership projects with institutions from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

By the 25 April deadline, the national Focal Point had received a total 264 project proposals applying for €190 million in grants, ten times the amount available for re-granting. The call had been much anticipated by Bulgarian non governmental organisations, who accounted for the largest share of submitted applications. Close to 40 percent of all submitted projects came from civil society, while Bulgarian municipalities came second-up among the applicants with a total 28 percent of the proposals.

At a press conference in Sofia on 28 May on the closed call, Bulgarian Minister of Finance Plamen Oresharski stressed the fact that the projects will contribute to reducing social and economic disparities, while also strengthening the capacity of Bulgaria as a new EU member state. Oresharski thanked Norway's ambassador to Bulgaria, Tove Skarstein, and her team for their commitment to the program and the valuable and timely assistance rendered to the Ministry of Finance for the successful launch of the EEA Financial Mechanism in Bulgaria. Ambassador Skarstein, also present at the press conference, expressed satisfaction with the completed call. "Excellent relations have been established not only between the institutions of the two countries but also between Norwegian and Bulgarian companies," Skarstein said.

Grants over €250,000 will be awarded to projects within the priority sectors for protection of the environment and promotion of renewable energy, human resource development, health and childcare, and conservation of European cultural heritage. While projects were submitted within all sectors in response to the call, the largest number of applications came under the sectors for health and childcare and for the protection of the environment. A list of the selected projects will shortly be sent to the Bulgarian Program Monitoring Committee for approval, before being forwarded to the Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels for appraisal, European Commission screening and approval by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Successful call: Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Finance Lyubomir Datzov, Minister of Finance Plamen Oresharski and Norwegian Ambassador Tove Skarstein were pleased with the high interest for the EEA Financial Mechanism in Bulgaria.