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Priorities of the Bulgarian Development Policy

Priorities of Bulgarian Development Assistance

Bulgaria's development assistance reflects the geographical foreign policy priorities based on our traditional historical, economic and cultural ties, the geographical proximity to partner countries, as well as their political will for cooperation.

For optimal targeting of resources during the 2020 - 2024 programming period, Bulgaria focuses on the following priority areas

Geographical priorities

During the period between 2020 and 2024, the Bulgarian development assistance will target the following priority geographical regions:

  • Western Balkans;
  • Eastern Partnership;
  • Middle East and North Africa;
  • Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Asia.

Relations with existing partner countries will continue to develop. The regions of the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership are a Bulgarian foreign policy priority, and their sustainable development and stability correspond to the country’s strategic interests.

The emphasis placed on certain partner countries of the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is detailed, carrying forward the geographical priorities of the previous Mid-term Programme for the Period 2016-2019.

Bilateral cooperation instruments will be in the focus of providing the Bulgarian development assistance.

Western Balkans

(Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro)

Bulgaria has a tradition in providing development assistance to the Western Balkan countries, guided by the strategic goal of their successful integration into the EU in the medium and long term.

The Western Balkans were a central and priority topic for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, during which their European perspective and integration were confirmed by the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans, the Sofia Declaration and the EU Council conclusions of 26 June 2018. The admission of the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania to NATO and the March 2020 EU Council decision to open accession negotiations with the two countries, confirming the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda, are driving a positive change in the situation in the region. The initiatives within the framework of the Berlin Process, whose joint presidency in 2020 is held by Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, also support the European integration of the countries in the region.

Development cooperation has established itself as one of Bulgaria’s important foreign policy activities, which deepens the country’s tangible presence in the Western Balkan countries at national and local level. This cooperation will also lead to development of economic partnerships and expansion of trade and economic ties.

Eastern Partnership

(Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine)

Bulgaria will continue to view the Eastern Partnership countries as priority partners considering the geographical proximity, the longstanding links of friendship and the desire to support these countries in their efforts to move closer to and integrate with the EU. In the ongoing pursuit of this cooperation, Bulgaria will participate in the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the strategic vision for the Eastern Neighbourhood .

Middle East and North Africa

(Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia)

Bulgaria will be paying increasing attention to providing development assistance and humanitarian aid to the countries of the Middle East and North Africa with a view to addressing the root causes of irregular migration and refugee waves by means of promoting sustainable development, creating employment on the ground, and strengthening stability and peace.

Within the context of overcoming the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the countries and communities of the Middle East and North Africa will be assisted in their efforts to enhance their preparedness to respond to such challenges and to improve their resilience.

Seeking an effective combination of humanitarian aid and development aid, Bulgaria will be interacting on the ground with the EU, EU Member States and other donors.

Sub-Saharan Africa

(Angola, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria)

Bulgaria will invigorate its partnership with four least developed and less developed countries of sub-Saharan Africa, carrying forward this geographical priority from the Mid-term Programme for the Period 2016-2019, guided by the ‘no one left behind’ principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, acting in line with the main strands of the EU’s comprehensive Strategy with Africa.


(Afghanistan, Vietnam, Mongolia)

Bulgaria has a long-standing tradition of friendly relations with Vietnam and will continue to provide development assistance to that country with a view to facilitating its sustainable development. The development aid to Mongolia will continue to be provided in line with the modalities of the intergovernmental agreement in the sectors of education and agriculture.

Bulgaria has been providing development assistance to Afghanistan over the last two decades. At this stage and in the near future, the possibilities to implement projects on the ground are blocked owing to the high security risks caused by the complicated military and political situation and continued hostilities. Therefore, administrative capacity building projects and training projects will be implemented mainly in Bulgaria.

Sectoral priorities

The sectoral priorities of the programme are identified depending on partner countries’ needs, the capacity and experience available to Bulgaria, and the results of the monitoring and evaluation of development aid by partner country.

Global challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals are an important factor in choosing sectoral priorities of Bulgarian development assistance. In this way, Bulgaria’s development cooperation contributes to the national priorities for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Quality education



Bulgaria supports an improvement of conditions for, and access to, education in partner countries by sharing its experience in the sphere of inclusive and cross-cultural education, offering study scholarships for students, designing up-to-date curricula, including in global education, etc.

This sectoral priority also includes providing better access to the labour market for disadvantaged group members by activation, information, pro-active motivation, guidance and counselling services tailored to their needs, as well as upskilling and competence-upgrading training to increase their employability.


Quality healthcare



A priority sector for the programme is ensuring quality healthcare with an emphasis on vulnerable groups, especially women and children, including raising awareness of preventive healthcare, training of medical specialists and providing support for enhancement of the quality of healthcare. Health and occupational safety, including prevention of work-related diseases, create conditions for ensuring health-related well-being and a high quality of work.

Based on the lessons drawn from the global health crises, Bulgaria will continue to encourage the inter-sectoral initiatives at the international, regional and local level and will be putting strengthening of the capacity and resilience of the health system at the heart of programming development in healthcare.


Capacity building in support of security and development, including through support for good governance and civil society building



The specific situation in many partner countries makes it necessary to adopt an approach based on the peace, security and development nexus. The creation of a crisis prevention capacity will help building international peace and security in the zones of risk and instability and create sustainable communities.

Promoting democratic processes based on the values of democracy, the rule of law, transparency and effectiveness of institutions is at the core of Bulgarian development assistance. Through this policy, our country assists its partners in the process of reforming the public sector, managing public funds, support for the rule of law and participation of civil society in democratic processes, local capacity building, reforming the security sector and crisis management.

Protection and promotion of human rights is a prerequisite for the sustainable and progressive development of each country, and Bulgaria is giving emphasis to human rights (in particular, gender equality and the rights of children within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) in the implementation of its policy towards partner countries. The efforts for social inclusion of vulnerable groups are also in the focus of Bulgaria’s development policy.


Economic growth



Through its development aid, Bulgaria provides support to tackle the root causes of migration and improve living conditions in countries which generate a substantial migration flow.

Bulgaria supports partner countries’ efforts to improve living conditions by assisting the promotion of micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises, introducing innovation and job creation, through technical support, including in the field of agriculture, and expert assistance for the introduction of sustainable management structures.

We lay emphasis on the specific needs of young people through enhancement of job quality and promotion of entrepreneurship opportunities, supported by effective policies in education, vocational training, skills development, and through access to digital technologies and services.


Cross cutting priority: gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls



One of the principal objectives of the 2030 Agenda is building a world in which all legal, social and economic barriers to the empowerment of women and girls have been removed. There is a growing body of opinion that just and sustainable global development cannot be ensured without achieving equality between women and men, girls and boys.

Gender equality and the empowerment of women are important objectives by themselves, but they are also a key driver of accelerated realisation of the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of all 17 SDGs, which are essential for poverty eradication, conflict prevention and sustainable peace building.

The ‘no one left behind’ principle places the focus on the poorest, marginalised and vulnerable groups, including women, girls and members of the LGBTI community and stresses the importance of taking various measures to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequalities and combat discrimination.

In this context, Bulgaria should be more active in implementing development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects and activities directly related to gender equality:

  • economic, social and political empowerment of women and girls;
  • protection of women and girls in conditions of instability and conflict;
  • elimination of sexual exploitation, harassment and other harmful practices of gender-based violence and discrimination;
  • improvement of sexual and reproductive health;
  • ensuring access to food and water;
  • provision of quality health services and education to women and girls, tailored to their specific needs;
  • provision of post-conflict reconstruction services, etc.


Cross-cutting priority: environmental protection and actions to fight climate change




The well-being of people and the resilience of societies depend on a healthy environment and functioning ecosystems. Environmental challenges respect no ‘boundaries’ and are interdependent and interlinked across borders.


Bulgaria supports the protection and improvement of the quality of the marine environment, including by raising public awareness of the damage caused by marine litter and the possibilities to avert the related threats to the marine environment.


Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is a major challenge in many parts of the world. The risks arising from the use of dirty and dangerous water may have a very negative impact on people and the economy. Economic development, demographic processes and rapid urbanisation are having an impact because the local authorities in water deficient regions will not be in a position to meet the needs of essential services, including water supply and sanitation. Therefore, our country supports the use of EU's external policy instruments, including development cooperation, to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation for all.


In addition, waste generation poses a challenge at global level and affects adversely the environment and human health. Our country supports the environmentally sound management of waste over its whole life cycle through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse, as well as through raising people’s awareness of the sustainable management and effective utilisation of natural resources.


The specific activities (development projects and/or contributions to international organizations) that will be set on the cross cutting priority “environmental protection and actions to fight climate change” will be consistent with and will help to fulfil Bulgaria's obligations under Art. 9 of the Paris Agreement in terms of supporting developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to them.

Cross-cutting priority: protection and promotion of the rights of the child


The scale of progress made worldwide towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 will directly affect the future of millions of children and hence our common future as a global community. The SDGs are universal in scope, and their pledge that no one will be left behind put the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised groups, including children, on top of the 2030 Agenda.

The protection and promotion of children’s rights is an important topic for our country both nationally and internationally and is a key priority of our foreign policy in the area of human rights. This topic is at the core of a number of our initiatives, including at the UN Human Rights Council. We express support for initiatives intended to promote the rights of the child by means of a healthy environment, ensuring access to quality services (healthcare and education, including inclusive education for children with disabilities and disadvantaged children), elimination of all forms of violence, including online violence.












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