Sweden - Southeast Europe News Site

Sweden - Southeast Europe News Site

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to the news site of the Chamber of Commerce for Sweden - Southeast Europe in cooperation with Business Sweden and Governments and Organisations in SEE.

Mingling with old friends

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Mon, March 27, 2017 09:27:30

Had a great meeting with the Swedish Bulgarian association in Stockholm last week. As always very warm atmosphere and nice to meet old friends from our times in Bulgaria. Göran Svensson, former Swedish Consul with more than 30 years experience from living and doing business in Bulgaria, gave an interesting update of the current situation in Bulgaria in general and regarding politics and business in particular.

Left to right in the picture: Roger Hellqvist, CEO Atolina AB, Göran Svensson, Chairman of the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in Sofia, Owe Wetterberg, Chairman of the Swedish – Bulgarian Association, Detelina Yankova, Swedish-Bulgarian Association, Sten Ask, Ambassador, with many years in Sofia, Göran Uvner, Uvner Business Consulting. Roger, Owe and Göran are also board members in the Chamber of Commerce Sweden – Southeast Europe.



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Three potential buyers bid for Bulgaria´s Vivacom

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Sun, November 15, 2015 13:51:51

Three potential buyers have placed binding bids for Bulgaria’s Vivacom by Thursday’s deadline as reported by the Sofia news agency novinite.com.
One of the candidates is Greece’s Olympia group backed by U.S.-based hedge fund firm Third Point. Olympia is controlled by Panos Germanos, the company's founder and main shareholder. Third Point LLC is an investment adviser based in New York and founded by Daniel Loeb, who serves as its CEO.

The second offer was submitted by Marc Schneider, co-founder of European cable group UPC, financially backed by U.S.-based private equity fund CVC.

The third candidate is Bulgarian-born and UK-based entrepreneur Spas Roussev. His offer is expected to be financially backed by VTB Capital, the investment-banking arm of Russia's second-largest bank VTB.

VTB Capital is currently a security agent for a EUR 150 M bridge loan to Luxembourg-based InterV Investment, the indirect holding company of the largest telecommunications company by revenue in Bulgaria. The funding was secured via a Luxembourg share pledge over 100% of the shares in Vivacom owned by InterV Investment.

An auction will be held in London next Thursday for 100% of the shares of InterV Investment, which defaulted on loan repayment at the the maturity of the financing in May 2015.
Read more in novinite.com.



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Congratulations Bulgaria: You are the offshoring destination of the year 2015

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Wed, October 21, 2015 10:15:52
Bulgaria is the winner in 2015 European Outsourcing Association Awards (EOAA) in „Offshoring Destination of the Year“category. This was announced during an official EOA Awards ceremony on October 8, 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Plamen Tsekov, a board member of the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association (BOA) and CEO of “ScaleFocus”, had the honor to receive the award. Bulgaria won in competition with another two shortlisted countries Latvia and South Africa. “This is a great recognition for Bulgaria, which will encourage the development of IT and outsourcing industry, and will especially raise the image and the visibility of Bulgarian companies on the international arena,” said Plamen Tsekov.
“The award is recognition for the outsourcing industry development in Bulgaria and that our country is a world class business destination. This is an award for the Bulgarian State and recognition of the human capital and good business practices in the country, of the stability and development prospects of the Bulgarian business sector,” said Stefan Bumov, chairman of the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association (BOA). Read more here.
The Chamber of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe joins in on the congratulations.

Did you know there is a Business forum on Linkedin for people who do business between Sweden and the countries in Southeast Europe? Apply for your free membership here.






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Group of EU investors takes control over Bulgaria´s Vivacom

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Fri, March 20, 2015 13:03:56
LIC33, a group of companies gathering European Union investors specialized in emerging markets and distressed situations, takes over a majority stake in Vivacom and other leading companies in Bulgaria.
VIVACOM (Виваком) is the brand name of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company EAD (BTC), the largest telecommunications company in Bulgaria and a former state-owned monopoly.
The former owner has irrevocably sold the assets against a commitment from the investor to refinance all debts due to the various banks vested in the situation. The initial estimation of the consolidated debts to be refinanced is EUR 900mln.
The recent transaction is waiting for regulatory approvals and the new investors have already started the refinancing efforts along with the re-structuring efforts -with a view to stabilize the situation.
The former owner did not keep any interest in the assets LIC33 acquired.
Vivacom is the largest telecom operator in Bulgaria and posted EBITDA of EUR 175 mill in the year of 2013.
A press conference will take place at the Hilton in Sofia Tuesday 24th March 2015. More in the LIC33 pressrelease here.










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Sofia Metro goes underground in Stockholm

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Fri, December 26, 2014 21:23:31

One of the few cities in Southeast Europe with an underground transport system is Sofia in Bulgaria. Since a few years the implementation of a large-scale Extension Project has started with help of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund (CF) of the European Union with local co-financing.

In the beginning of December, the Chamber of Commerce Sweden – Southeast Europe arranged a study visit for a team from Sofia Metro to MTR Stockholm, since 2009 operator of the Stockholm metro transport system.

The team from the Sofia Metro was led by the Director General, prof Dr Stoyan Bratoev. During the visit Dr Bratoev and his team were visiting one of the traffic control centers in Stockholm and given presentations by directors at MTR. One point of interest was a visit to a station in the northwestern suburbs where MTR is testing out different types of automatic platform screen doors, which can substantially reduce the risk for accidents.

The Stockholm metro transport system is the 6th largest in Europe, with a track length of 108 km. MTR Stockholm is a subsidiary of MTR Europe in London, part of the Hongkong based MTR Corp. MTR Stockholm was awarded the Swedish Quality Award 2014 for outstanding quality performance. The award will be presented to MTR by HM the King of Sweden in February 2015.

Pictures below:
1. Dr Bratoev (left) in one of the Stockholm metro traffic control centers at Gullmarsplan station.

2. Dr Bratoev discussing platform screen doors with MTR area director Dag Lokrantz-Berentz at Åkeshov metro station.
Photos by Göran Uvner







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Bulgaria is now the most preferred outsourcing destination in Europe

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Thu, October 02, 2014 21:05:44

Bulgaria has become among the most preferred outsourcing destinations in the world and the only European country in the top 10 list of most attractive countries for such activities, done by the analysis company A.T. Kearney, as reported by novinite.com. Bulgaria is at the ninth position among 51 countries in the world and climbs up eight positions in the list since 2011, when the previous survey was done.

According to Stefan Bumov, chairperson of the Bulgarian Outsourcing Association, quoted by Mediapool.bg, this was an important recognition of the efforts of Bulgaria's outsourcing industry and its contribution to the economy. In Bumov's words, in 2013 the turnover of Bulgaria's outsourcing sector was BGN 1 B and has increased by 60% in the past four years. The sector hires 20 000 people and in the next few years their number is expected to increase four times.

The index takes into account 39 criteria in three categories – financial attractiveness, business environment and human resources. The chart below shows the first 20 countries in the A.T. Kearney report.









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More good news from Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Wed, September 10, 2014 17:01:51

From Bulgaria we have just received some interesting and encouraging news which we would like to share with our members. Read all about it in this newsletter from the Bulgarian Investment Agency.

A few stories in the newsletter
· Bulgaria’s GDP growing
· Bulgaria ranks fourth place in the world in low taxes for foreigners
· IT outsourcing boom boosts Bulgaria
· Bulgaria ranks first in the production of copper and gold in Europe
· Bulgaria to pour BGN 1 billion in R&D in 2015
· Foreign direct investments in the non- financial sector in Bulgaria increased by 4.5 % in 2013 compared to 2012
· European Commission adopted ‘Partnership Agreement’ with Bulgaria on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020

Furthermore you will find information about several investment projects and also a feature story about the textile industry in Bulgaria.
Download the newsletter here.









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Swedish AQ Plastronic expanding in Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, September 09, 2014 20:45:24

Bulgarian plastic parts manufacturer AQ Plastronic (part of the Swedish AQ Group) has unveiled plans to invest BGN 8m (€4.1m) in expanding its product range. The firm is also aiming to create about 30 new jobs at its production facility in Veliko Tarnovo, in Bulgaria’s northern part, Bulgarian agency Invest Bulgaria said in a statement.

With the planned investment, the manufacturer will install new machines at the factory. Under the plan, AQ Plastronic will expand its product range by launching production of new plastic components intended for Swedish automotive manufacturers Volvo and Scania and electronics producer Ericsson, according to Emil Nikolov, the firm’s executive director.

The company recently changed its name to AQ Plastronic, previously operating under the brand of Carat Electronics. The move is related to the recent take over of the Bulgarian firm by the Swedish AQ Group, which acquired a majority stake in Carat Electronics AD in June 2014.
"The acquisition was made to increase our production capacity and further to gain competence in design and production in Bulgaria of injection molding as well as PCB assemblies. We have expanded successfully in the country since 1996 and this is our next step in investments there. After the acquisition AQ will have close to 1000 employees in Bulgaria." says Claes Mellgren, CEO of AQ Group, in a statement.






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On a fast track to China

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Mon, January 20, 2014 16:51:20

We all know that China is flirting intensively with the emerging countries in Africa and Eastern Europe, promising investments and cheap loans. China has been wooing Romania for quite some time and now it seems to be Bulgaria´s turn to receive offers they can´t resist.
On a trade visit to Beijing, Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, praised growing economic ties with Asian superpower. Bulgaria’s President said that two leading Chinese construction companies have submitted proposals to build the Black Sea motorway.
Construction of the motorway is among the projects proposed by Bulgaria as it competes for Chinese funding under its initiative for cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This envisages a total credit line of 10 billion US dollars.
During Plevneliev’s visit to China, he and President Xi Jinping agreed to double trade volume over the next five years.
Read more in this Balkan Insight article.





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Norwegians take over from the Greeks in Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Fri, April 26, 2013 21:10:45

Just minutes agoTelenor announced that they have signed an agreement with Greek OTE to acquire Bulgarian mobile operator Globul for a total amount of EUR 717 million on a cash and debt free basis. Globul is the second largest mobile operator in Bulgaria with 4.5 million subscribers and a market share of 36 percent. The transaction also includes Germanos Bulgaria, the leading telecom retailer in the country operationally integrated with Globul.

In Central and Eastern Europe, Telenor Group is currently present in Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro. The company is a leader in terms of mobile revenue share in Serbia and Montenegro. “Our entrance into the Bulgarian market enhances the potential for cross-border co-operation and increased efficiency that our customers, businesses and the Telenor Group as a whole will benefit from. We also see a potential in expansion of mobile data and internet-based services in the market,” said Kjell-Morten Johnsen, Executive Vice-President and Head of region Europe.

Globul has been present in Bulgaria since 2001. At the end of 2012, the company reported 4.5 million subscribers and a 36 percent subscriber market share. In 2012, Globul and Germanos Bulgaria generated revenues of EUR 378 million and EBITDA of EUR 135 million. The transaction is subject to relevant merger control approvals and is expected to be finalised in Q3 2013.No further comments will be given until the press and analyst conference on Monday, 29 April 2013 at 0900 CET.

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Swedes waste no water in Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Sun, March 31, 2013 14:08:31
Malmberg Water’s daughter company in Bulgaria has in consortium with the local construction company Hydrostroytelstvo signed the contract for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in Bulgaria. The project, which has a total value of 25 million SEK, includes design, construction, supply and installation of equipment, putting into exploitation and training of personnel. Due to its unique compact design the plant will be one of the most modern and cost efficient in Bulgaria when completed.
The project is just one of many now financed under the European Union’s Operational Programme Environment, currently ongoing in Bulgaria, which aims to develop the country’s environmental infrastructure to comply with EC requirements. Read more here.

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Bulgaria presents investment opportunities at London seminar

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Sat, December 08, 2012 12:12:12

A number of companies voiced plans to invest in Bulgaria after a forum held in London on the benefits of the country as an investment destination.
Delyan Dobrev, Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism, met with potential investors during the forum "Investing in Bulgaria – The strategic business destination in Central and Eastern Europe", according to a media statement of the Ministry of Economy, energy, and Tourism (MIET).
The event was attended by representatives of over 120 companies in the sectors of outsourcing, IT, electronics and electrotechnology, financial services, furniture, and textile. Several international companies already established in Bulgaria shared their positive experience of the investment climate. Read more in the Novinite news here.

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On a long road to stability

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Thu, December 06, 2012 17:52:19

Compare what is happening in Bulgaria with the state of affairs in countries around it – economic crisis in Greece, surging unemployment in parts of former Yugoslavia, political troubles in Romania – and one phrase recurs: “We are”, says the country’s president, Rosen Plevneliev, “an absolute island of stability”.

The claim, repeated by many senior Bulgarians, has substance. Though the economy shrank by 5.5 per cent in the 2009 global recession, unlike neighbouring Serbia, Romania and Greece, Bulgaria required no international bailout. It has since had 13 consecutive quarters of growth, even if this has been anaemic. With among the lowest budget deficit and government debt figures in the European Union, Bulgaria is one of only three countries, alongside Finland and Denmark, that fully meet the Maastricht criteria for euro membership. Read more here.

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Bulgaria postpones plans for joining the Euro zone

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Sun, September 09, 2012 18:38:23

For the moment Bulgaria puts off its plans for joining the Euro zone due to the continuing financial crisis said Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov, quoted by Wallstreet Journal. In his words there is no gain in this country entering the Euro zone because “at this stage it only means expenses”. The rules in the zone are changing all the time and joining in would be highly risky. Besides the Bulgarians would like to know whether the accession to the zone would not mean to salvage someone else from bankruptcy , Minister Dyankov further added.

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Bulgaria to be the focus point for e-business and web marketing in October

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, August 23, 2011 22:10:43

Webit Congress 2011 - one of Europe's premier digital marketing and IT industry events with special focus on Central and Eastern Europe, will take place in Sofia on October 26-27 this year. More than 5000 visitors from 21 countries are expected to attend the exhibition and the 7 parallel conference tracks. The participants will be able to meet and listen to a number of prominent people from within the e-business and internet marketing area, among them specialists from Google, Facebook, eBay and Microsoft. Click here for more information.

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Electronics and IT outsorcing sector have the highest growth potential in Bulgarian economy

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, August 09, 2011 11:10:38

Electronics, IT, and services outsourcing are the sectors of the Bulgarian economy that harbor the greatest growth potential, states the major conclusion of a fresh study by Bulgaria's Finance Ministry. The report of the Economic Analysis and Forecasts Directorate of the Finance Ministry in Sofia released Monday studies the performance of the real economy sector in Bulgaria in 2008-2010.
In addition to stressing the importance of improving production efficiency in Bulgaria, the paper also emphasizes that during the economic boom of the pre-crisis years both investments and labor had not focused on the most productive sectors of the real economy in the country. According to the Bulgarian Finance Ministry, the services are the sector of the Bulgarian economy that has suffered the least from the global economic and financial crisis reports Sofia news Agency. (Balkans.com August 8)

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Bulgaria to receive 10-15 % more EU funding

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sat, July 02, 2011 13:25:25

Bulgaria can count on a 10-15% increase in the monies from EU funds after 2014, it emerged after the European Commission approved late on Wednesday a proposal for the EU budget 2014-2020. "Bulgaria is expected to receive a 10-15% increase compared to what we have today," Bulgarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva told the Bulgarian National Radio. "It will be extremely important in the next 18 months, when the negotiations over the budget are running, that we prove our preparedness to absorb funds so that these preliminary figures become a reality," she added.
(Balkcan.com)

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Shocked Investors: New Law Shatters Bulgaria's Renewable Energy Sector

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, May 24, 2011 21:32:03
Bulgaria's newly adopted Renewable Energy Act contradicts the Constitution and EU law, and will shatter the country's energy future, according to the BulgarianWind Energy Association. "Instead of encouraging the development of renewable energy in Bulgaria the new law is practically creating conditions for the complete freeze of the industry, and will have very severe consequences in the near future," the statement says.

The wind energy investors argue the law violates the Constitution and EU regulations by introducing post-dated measures regarding investment projects under development, which "undermines the trust in Bulgaria as an investment destination." "What is more, while EU directives stipulate that RE projects must get a priority access to the power grid, the law places RE behind all other kinds of energy. For example, it places limits on renewable energy sources that do not exist for any other conventional energy source," the investors complain. Read the full Novinite article here.

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South-East European Congress and Exhibition on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources in Sofia

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Sun, March 13, 2011 19:12:36

Innovative technologies and practices, strong international participation, a lot of new business contacts, many parallel initiatives and discussions – this is what the 7th edition of the South-East European EE & RES Congress and Exhibition will offer. The event is a great opportunity for the leading companies in the sectors to bring modern technologies to the Region and find new partners.
In the Congress 40 speakers from 20 countries will participate. The main topics include: EE & Renewable Financing - International & Local Incentive Programs, Energy Efficiency and Decentralized Energy, RES Electricity & Smart Grid Platform. Special accent will be put on the Waste-to-Energy session with 15 speakers from Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia and Switzerlandр UK and USA.
In the Exhibition there will be group participations from Austria, China, Finland, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, and the USA
More about this green event can be found here.

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EBRD commit to increase Bulgarian SME´s competitiveness through investments in green energy

BulgariaPosted by Uvner Business Consulting Fri, March 04, 2011 23:14:46

EBRD this week agreed with Bulgaria to increase competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises through investments in energy efficiency in order to strengthen the transition of the country towards a green economy.
Building on EBRD’s successful track record with implementation of sustainable energy credit lines in Bulgaria and the region, the Bank will support the design, launch and monitoring of the new Government’s programme to increase efficiency productivity of SMEs through the promotion of energy efficiency investments. To support this new programme, the Bank plans to establish the “Energy Efficiency for Competitive Industry Financing Facility” under which the Bank will extend credit lines to commercial banks in Bulgaria.
Under its new programme, the Government will provide to SMEs technical assistance and grants alongside loans from commercial banks which should receive credit lines from EBRD. For this purposes, the Government expects to utilise approximately EUR 200 million earmarked for sustainable energy initiatives under the Operational Programme “Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy 2007-2013”.

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Bulgarien upp på svarta listan

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, July 06, 2010 19:57:55

EU-kommissionen föreslog på tisdagen att även Bulgarien ska föras upp på stabilitetspaktens svarta lista över länder med för stora budgetunderskott. EU inleder en budgetprocedur mot Bulgarien. Därmed finns samtliga EU-länder i underskottsproceduren utom Sverige och Estland med underskott över 3 procent av BNP.
Kommissionen föreslog att starta proceduren nu eftersom Bulgarien i april meddelade en stor revidering av underskottet för 2009 till 3,9 procent från tidigare närmare budgetbalans.
Kommissionen skickade då en delegation till Bulgarien för att granska metodiken för den bulgariska statistiken, eftersom så stora fel hade uppstått. En förklaring till att Greklands stora budgetproblem var dold under mer än tio år var att Grekland tillhandahöll felaktig statistik till EU.
På tisdagen föreslog kommissionen att EU:s finansministrar riktar två rekommendationer till Bulgarien för att sänka underskottet under 3 procent nästa år.
I år uppmanas Bulgarien att underskottet understiger det planerade 3,8 procent och säkerställer en konsolidering av minst 0,75 procentenheter nästa år.
Bulgarien uppmanas också att stärka budgetprocessen, kontrollen på utgifter, det medelfristiga budgetramverket, samt förbättra effektiviteten i offentliga utgifter.Dessutom bör Bulgarien genomföra strukturreformer i pensionssystemet, utbildning, hälsovård och offentlig administration. (DI 6 juli).


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Bulgaria seeks Russian loan to fund nuclear plant construction

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Mon, March 22, 2010 21:53:09
Bulgaria will ask Russia for a loan of some 2 billion euros ($2.75 billion) to finance the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant over the next two years, the Bulgarian economy minister said Tuesday.
Traicho Traikov said Bulgaria was determined to complete the project because a lot of money had already been sunk into it, the BTA news agency reported.

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EUs mest välskötta statsfinanser finns i... Bulgarien

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Fri, March 19, 2010 13:13:06
Sverige har hittills tillhört de få EU-länder som efterlevt E U:s regler för
budgetunderskott och statsskuld. Nu ståtar istället Bulgarien, Estland och
Finland med E U:s mest välskötta statsfinanser. Bulgarien är det enda EU-landet med 0 % budgetunderskott.
Det visar den rapport som EU-kommissionen offentliggjorde i veckan och som oblygt läxar upp stora EU-länder som Storbritannien, Tyskland, Frankrike, Italien och Spanien för brister i den ekonomiska hushållningen.
Även Sverige drar på sig kritik. Enligt EU-kommissionen bör regeringen Reinfeldt
ge garantier om att årets underfinansierade svenska statsbudget (3,4 %) är ett
tillfälligt avsteg från reglerna i EU:s stabilitetspakt.
Budgetunderskott 2010 (i procent av bnp)
1. Bulgarien 0,0
2. Estland 2,0
3. Finland 3,0
4. Sverige 3,4
5. Österrike 4,0
6. Tyskland 4,5
Läs hela artikeln i Sydsvenskan här.


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Women’s Influence Grows in Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Mon, February 08, 2010 23:23:39

Prime Minister Boiko M. Borisov of Bulgaria has in recent months promoted a legion of women. “Women are more diligent than men, and they don’t take long lunches or go to the bar,” insisted Mr. Borisov, who has cited his mother and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany as his role models. “Women have stronger characters than men because when they say no they mean no, and they are less corruptible,” he said last summer, inaugurating the women’s wing of his center-right party.
While some critics view Mr. Borisov’s elevation of women as little more than a cynical ploy aimed at giving this poor, notoriously corrupt country an image makeover, few dispute that the empowerment of women in Bulgarian public life is reaching new heights, even as men still dominate politics.
Women in high places include the justice minister, the mayor of Sofia, the speaker of Parliament, the nominee to lead the European Union’s humanitarian aid and the head of the prime minister’s office. Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian diplomat who recently defeated the Egyptian culture minister to lead Unesco, is a 57-year-old mother and arms control expert. In 2009 elections to the European Parliament, 60 percent of the candidates put forward by Mr. Borisov’s center-right party were women. Read the whole article in New York Times here.

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In Pursuit of Happiness? Try Bulgaria, Says Moody’s

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, January 19, 2010 22:46:38

Hit harder in GDP terms by the financial crisis than any region on earth, citizens from across Central and Eastern Europe can, and often do, regale you with tales of economic woe.

But a new index published Wednesday says financial misery will be spread as unevenly across the ex-communist states this year as it was in 2009 — while optimism will be found in some surprising places.

According to Moody’ s ‘Misery Index,’ which adds projections of fiscal deficits to unemployment numbers as a measure of economic gloom, the least miserable of the 23 states ranked will be (drum roll)… Bulgaria.

Slammed by the financial crisis and enduring spending cuts from a center-right government determined to balance 2010’s budget, this may come as a surprise for many in the EU’s poorest member state. But Moody’s says expectations of a negligible 2010 budget deficit combined with predictions of a jobless rate below 10% will see the EU newcomer even less downbeat than super-rich Switzerland next year, where real economy indicators have fared far better than the European average.

Less curious is the plight of Baltic economies Latvia and Lithuania. Suffering from emergency budget cuts and double-digit GDP contractions their citizens are tipped to be almost three times as miserable the Bulgarians - and were only pipped to the inglorious title ‘most miserable’ by fallen-star Spain, where mushrooming dole queues are making it all but impossible to crack a smile.

The report, which is published in an appendix of Moody’s closely-watched Sovereign Risk report, ranks Slovakia, Estonia, Poland and Hungary towards the middle of the table — less miserable than the UK, US and crisis-ridden Greece but more downbeat than the Bulgaria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, central Europe’s most upbeat performer.

The prediction that Ukraine — propped up by emergency IMF money and facing a potentially destabilizing national election later this month — will see a less miserable 2010 than any CEE economy bar Bulgaria appears to show a weakness in Moody’s methodology.

But the index also reinforces how varied the experience of the region has been, despite some analysts’ insistence of bundling together economies from the Baltics to the Black Sea under the label Eastern Europe. (Wall street journal, Jan 13)

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Only Bulgaria will reduce it´s debt of all EU countries

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Fri, December 18, 2009 10:40:51

The recent financial crisis is digging deep holes in most countries´ economies. The latest problems in our region are those revealed in the Greek economy, where the prognosis shows a record debt among the EU countries. On the other hand, however, Bulgaria is the only country in the whole union that will actually decrease it´s debt during the next couple of years, as shown in this graph from Dagens Nyheter. For a larger picture, just click on it.

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Bulgaria Wins Praise for Austerity Efforts

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Mon, September 14, 2009 23:07:26

Bulgaria's new government has slashed spending and seen its approval ratings rise, making a political star out of Simeon Djankov, a former World Bank economist who runs the finance ministry.

The government, led by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, swept parliamentary elections early in July on a promise to ease the recession and bear down on levels of corruption that prompted the European Union to freeze $1.56 billion in aid funding. (Wall Street Journal, Sept 7).

Picture showing Finance Minister Simeon Djankov.

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EU about to release millions of dollars in farm aid to Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, September 08, 2009 22:07:28
A total of EUR 109 million under the SAPARD program could be unblocked. The news broke after the news conference organized by the EU Funds Management Council. Some EUR 19 million has been already unfrozen and the country could claim the rest of EUR 90.6 million. According to Juliana Nikolova, who is in charge of the EU funds management, this will be officially announced in the frames of the visit of the Bulgarian delegation to Brussels and the country will expect a clear answer about whether the money will be released.
In the frames of its upcoming visit to Brussels the Bulgarian delegation will present concrete action plans on all projects realized under the EU programs. At yesterday’s sitting of the EU Funds Management Council, it was decided for an expert to be appointed in charge of each individual project. (Focus Information Agency September 9)

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New ministers appointed by PM Borisov

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Wed, July 29, 2009 00:16:57

No prime minister can expect to accomplish anything without a well-rounded cabinet, and Borisov is no different. Most of his ministers, which were quickly approved by parliament, are new on the political scene, which many see as part of Borisov's plan to prove his party is different from the traditional political establishment.

Many experts have said that in light of the economic crisis, which has hit Bulgaria especially hard, the new Finance Minister Simeon Djankov is going to play a vital role in the new government.

Daniel Smilov, program director of political and legal research at the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, told Deutsche Welle that the appointment of Djankov, who has joined Borisov's government after leaving a 13 year position at the World Bank, is very significant.

"Borisov wants to say that his economic policy is going to be stability and continuity of previous reforms and also increasing the deficit of the Bulgarian economy," he added.

Smilov also pointed out that Borisov's closest ally, former police chief Tsvetan Tsvetanov, will head the interior ministery, making him responsible for cracking down on organized crime and fighting corruption among police.

The new minister of justice, Margarita Popova, has worked as a prosecutor since 1990, heading the Sofia Prosecutor's Office between 1996 and 2004 before being appointed spokeswoman to the Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev in 2006.

Since October of last year, Popova has been running a specialized unit for fighting fraud involving EU funds and had won praise both at home in Bulgaria and from Brussels.

Of course, having a good team is only half the battle, according to Smilov, who says the real question is whether or not Borisov has a coherent strategy to implement.

"Now what is needed is real political commitment and will to change existing practices. Borisov has public support and he has a team of experts…so the conditions are there for some progress in the fight against corruption and organized crime."(Deutsche Welle, 28 July)

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BBC interview with Bulgarias new PM

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Mon, July 27, 2009 00:26:18

Click here for an interview with Bulgarias new carismatic prime minister that BBC made on July 25th.

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"Bulgaria risks falling under Russia’s influence" according to EU experts

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Thu, July 23, 2009 10:23:52

Financial Times, July 22:
Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member state, is at risk of falling under Russian political and economic influence unless Brussels works more effectively with Sofia, according to a panel of EU experts advising the Bulgarian government.
In a report obtained by the Financial Times, the experts called on Bulgaria’s authorities to take much firmer action against public corruption, saying high-level officials who are under serious suspicion should be dismissed without waiting for lengthy judicial proceedings. Read more here.

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Swedish companies make wish-list to new Bulgarian government

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sat, July 18, 2009 00:03:46

In line with the upcoming governmental elections in Bulgaria in July, the Swedish Trade Council in Sofia and the Bulgarian-Swedish Chamber of Commerce organized a forum-discussion called “Make Your Voice Heard” on June 18th. The event was designed to stimulate the cooperation between Bulgarian authorities and Swedish business and to facilitate communication.

The event started with welcome words by Ms. Daniela Dimitrova, Project Manager of the Swedish Trade Council in Sofia, Mr. Göran Svensson, President of the Bulgarian-Swedish Chamber of Commerce and H.E. Mr. Paul Beijer, Ambassador of Sweden to Bulgaria. During the first session of the forum special presentations were made by members of the Swedish business community in Bulgaria. They gave presentations of their experience in making business in the country, the problems they had faced, and gave suggestions on how to improve the business environment.

The second session of the forum started with a mutual discussion. Hot topics such as corruption, legislation, bureaucracy, infrastructure, etc, were all among the discussed issues at the event. Factors and measures for improving the cooperation between the government and the business were also identified.

As a result of the forum a joint memorandum will be composed and later on handed to the newly elected Bulgarian government. The memorandum will be structured as a wish-list to the new Bulgarian government with the wish Bulgaria to become an even better place for both foreign and national business.
© Anders Stohr

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Bulgaria signs up for Azeri gas pipeline

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Fri, July 17, 2009 00:06:32

Greek, Bulgarian and Italian companies signed an agreement on Tuesday to build a 160km pipeline that would end Bulgaria’s reliance on Russia for its natural gas. The €120m ($167m, £103m) link, to be completed in 2012, would give Bulgaria access to the ITGI pipeline carrying gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Greece and which is to be extended to Italy. It would provide an alternative source of gas for Bulgaria, the European Union member state hardest hit by the hiatus in ­supply as the result of a dispute between Russia and Ukraina in January.
The plan presents a challenge to Nabucco, the proposed pipeline from Turkey to Austria (see below), which will be competing for the same Azeri gas.
(Financial Times). Read more here.

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New Bulgarian premier promises to fight corruption

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Wed, July 08, 2009 08:20:36

Boyko Borissov, Bulgaria’s prime minister-elect, pledged to tackle corruption and overhaul the budget after his new right-of-centre political party won Sunday’s general election by an unexpectedly large margin.
Mr Borissov said his government would “find out the real situation with the budget” before deciding whether to follow the example of Romania and Hungary and seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund. Read more here.
(Financial Times, July 7)

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8th Business Roundtable with the Government of Bulgaria

BulgariaPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sun, June 14, 2009 09:21:54
8th Business Roundtable with the Government of Bulgaria
December 2009 - Sofia
For more information, please contact emeacustomerservice@economist.com

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