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Gerassimos Thomas: Bulgaria is the top 3 country in the absorption of the Investment Plan for Europe funds

Interview with the EFSI chairman - Marta Mladenova for “Horizont”, Bulgarian National Radio
Gerassimos Thomas: We have signed 163 transactions under the European Fund for Strategic investments through the European Investment Bank and national public banks – i.e. development banks, as they are known in Bulgaria. There is no universal model for all countries, because each of them has its own specificities and their public banks are different. Imagine, KfW shaping its products in one way, and the Spanish Development Bank, in a completely-new, Croatian-on third. The Bulgarian Development Bank also has its own approach. The most important feature of development banks is that knowing the specifics of every local market, they can support small projects for their participation in the Juncker plan. For such projects, it is more difficult to achieve the goals of the European Strategic Fund directly through the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. Development banks have a good overview as well of local commercial banks, local businesses, and can be helpful for the inclusion of private capital of building important projects through the Strategic Fund.
- Bulgaria is among the leading countries in terms of projects funded under the Juncker Plan. What is the role of the Bulgarian Development Bank?
Bulgaria has 13 projects realized through the European Strategic Investment Fund. Your country is ranked third in terms of investments to GDP per capita, not as absolute figures. The Bulgarian Development Bank has great potential to develop its activities in infrastructure and energy efficiency projects. The bank has already developed a new strategy that will enable it to become more involved in infrastructure projects.
- What is the role of development banks for the more effective structuring of financial instruments at European level?
Yes, the dialogue on financing policies with development banks is extremely important, especially in the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework. For us, the information provided by development banks is key to structure our instruments beyond 2020. Here I have to emphasize the excellent work of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. When talking about the next financial framework, we must also pay attention to the future of the Strategic Fund and a more active role of development banks in implementing the projects funded through it.