Original publication: October 2017
Author: Jacques Lecarte, Research Administrator
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2C4pAva
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The economic, social and territorial situation in Bulgaria

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This briefing was prepared to provide information for the visit to Bulgaria of a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI) from 29 to 31 October 2017, the region visited being Sofia city and the surrounding Sofia district.


Bulgaria covers 110 994 km² of south-east Europe (28 % of its territory is arable land and 33 % is forest), and has borders with Serbia, FYROM, Romania, Greece and Turkey. Its capital is Sofia. In terms of geography, vast plains and the Danube River define the northern border with Romania. The south of the country consists of highlands and elevated plains. In the east, the Black Sea coast is the country’s main tourist attraction.

Figure 1 Map of Bulgaria

Country profile
The population of Bulgaria was estimated at 7.2 million in 2015, representing 1.4 % of the total EU population. GDP per capita (in Purchasing Power Standards, PPS) stands at 48 % of the EU-28 average. The unemployment rate is 6.0 %, compared to 7.8 % for the EU-28.

Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. Its basic law is the Constitution, founded on the principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. It has the following institutions of State: the National Assembly (the parliament, elected for a four-year term); the Council of Ministers; the President of the Republic; and the Constitutional Court.

Bulgaria will start its EU presidency on 1 January 2018. This task will be an important test for the political, administrative and diplomatic capacity of the country.

Table 1: Key data

Figure 2: Vector map with largest cities, carefully scaled text by city population

Economy and labour market: With regard to the contribution of the different economic sectors to Bulgaria’s GDP, in 2015 agriculture accounted for 5.14 %, while industry contributed approximately 27.61 % and the services sector about 67.25 %. Bulgaria exports mostly fuels, manufactured goods (clothing, footwear), machinery and transport equipment and chemicals. Bulgaria’s main export partners are Germany, Turkey, Italy, Greece and Romania, while its main import partners are Germany, Russia and Italy.

The country became a member of the EU on 1 January 2007 and has committed to adopt the euro once it fulfils the necessary conditions. Bulgaria is not yet a member of the euro area and the lev (BGN=the Bulgarian currency) is not yet within the exchange rate  mechanism of the European Central Bank (ERM II). The country does not have a target date to adopt the euro. The European Commission believes that Bulgaria qualifies for entry into the Schengen area. For this, a unanimous decision by the EU Member States will be required.

Bulgaria will hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time in 2018.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/601-997

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Further reading: Transport and Tourism in Bulgaria

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