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Bulgaria

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REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2008 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 501 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC (2001) 1744 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1400 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report COM(2003) 676 final - SEC(2003) 1210 [Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2004) 1199 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005) 1352 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.05]

SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that greater efforts were required to make Bulgarian research and technological development efficient and competitive at European level. Nevertheless, no major problems were to be expected in this field as regards accession.

The November 1998 Report highlighted the progress made in this sector, particularly in terms of telecommunications.

The October 1999 Report found that good progress had been made, particularly in the fields of telecommunications and the information society. In the research sector, Bulgaria had been participating in the 5th Framework Programme since September 1999.

The November 2000 Report found that improvements in the field of telecommunications had slowed down.

The November 2001 Report noted that some progress had been made since the previous regular report.

The October 2002 Report emphasised the progress made by Bulgaria as regards both liberalisation of the telecommunications market and implementation of the relevant regulatory framework.

The 2003 Report noted that Bulgaria had achieved a reasonable degree of alignment with the regulatory framework in the area of telecommunications and that it should henceforth focus on implementation, which needed to be complemented by decisive action on the future of the incumbent operator.

The 2004 Report indicated that Bulgaria had made continuous progress and had stepped up its cooperation with the EU. However, further progress needed to be made on developing an overall strategy for scientific research and technological development and to further reinforce research-related administrative capacity and infrastructure.

In the field of telecommunications, the report noted that Bulgaria had made good progress in aligning with the Community acquis. However, it needed to take further steps to implement existing legislation.

The 2005 Report indicated that Bulgaria meets the requirements set out in the accession negotiations in the areas of science and research. Bulgaria should step up its work in the electronic communications and information technologies sectors, in particular by transposing the 2002 acquis and implementing the earlier acquis.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005 and accession took place on 1 January 2007.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Research and Technological Development activities at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty and in the Framework Programme (Article 166), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, as well as encouraging sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.

The particular nature of the acquis in the field of science and research is such that it does not need to be transposed into national legislation. Implementing the acquis is a question not of applying and enforcing legal measures but rather of creating the conditions needed for full participation in the work of the Framework Programmes.

The Europe Agreement between the EU and Bulgaria provides for cooperation in this area, notably through the participation of the Associated State in the Framework Programme. The White Paper on the countries of central and eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.

The objective of Community telecommunications policy is to remove barriers to the efficient operation of the internal market in equipment, services and telecommunications networks, to open foreign markets to Community enterprises and to make modern services available to citizens and enterprises in the EU. These objectives must be achieved by harmonising standards and conditions for the provision of services, liberalising the terminal equipment, services and networks markets and adopting the necessary regulatory measures. The last regulatory framework regarding electronic communications was adopted by the European Union in 2002.

The Europe Agreement between Bulgaria and the EU stipulates that improvements in standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, and the standardisation, regulation and modernisation of the infrastructure to Community level must be achieved through cooperation. The White Paper places emphasis on the alignment of regulations, networks and services and the measures to be taken for the gradual liberalisation of the sector.

EVALUATION

Science and research

The 2001 Regular Report found that Bulgaria had made noticeable progress in the field of research but that its participation in Community programmes needed to be encouraged as expenditure on research and development was still relatively low (0.59% of GDP in 1998).

In 2001 Bulgaria adopted a national framework for the development of science and research. This aims inter alia at an annual growth of 0.15% in gross expenditure on research and development as a share of GDP. Bulgaria also announced that it would open up its research activities to enterprises, researchers and universities from EU Member States.

Since February 2003, Bulgaria has been fully associated with the Sixth Framework Programme for research and technological development and with the Sixth Euratom Framework Programme.

Bulgaria has also adopted a Law on the promotion of scientific research, stipulating the basic functions of the National Council for Scientific Research. The purpose of this Law is to establish a fund for scientific research and provide for the development of a National Strategy for Scientific Research.

A new directorate for scientific research and research development has been established within the Ministry of Education and Science. Its task is to propose legislation in this area and to coordinate national research and technological development projects.

An innovation strategy aimed at increasing the competitiveness of Bulgarian industry and stimulating research and technological development in enterprises was adopted in 2004.

However, an overall strategy for scientific research and technological development is still lacking. The planned fund for scientific research has not yet been established. In addition, both Government and business expenditure on research is still relatively low and needs to be increased to meet the target of 3% of GDP by 2010 set by the Barcelona European Council.

Telecommunications

In the telecommunications sector, Bulgaria adopted a law in 1998 which provided for the introduction of a liberalised regime for all activities in this sector, except those related to the provision of regular telephone services and the renting-out of telephone lines. The Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) is still owned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. However, there are plans to transfer ownership rights to another state body if BTC has not been privatised by 1 January 2005. In 2004, 65% of the incumbent operator, the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, was privatised and a third GSM licence was issued, making use of unused spectrum. At the same time, the mobile sector has continued to expand and the quality of service has improved.

In May 2002, the Council of Ministers approved a sectoral policy document which confirmed the abolition of the monopoly over voice telephony and leased lines from January 2003. A second operator entered the Bulgarian GSM market in January 2001.

The new law on telecommunications was adopted in 2003 to align Bulgarian legislation with the acquis and foster the liberalisation of the fixed voice services telecommunication market. Since this law was adopted, access to the old operator's networks has improved considerably and significant progress has been made in the reforms aimed at promoting liberalisation in the sector.

The regulatory authority still needs to be accredited and commercial differences must still be resolved as required under the acquis. Legislation must also be adopted to ensure the supply of universal services. The national regulatory authorities should also be provided with the appropriate resources for them to perform the new tasks arising from implementing the recently adopted legislation.

In the area of the information society, rules for the structure of the Information and Communications Technology Development Agency were adopted in 2002. Bulgaria has also participated actively in eEurope 2002 and has undertaken to develop information society services.

An action plan for the implementation of Bulgaria's e-Government strategy was adopted in 2004. It envisages measures to ensure high-quality, effective and easy-to-access public services by electronic means.

Postal services

In August 2000, a new law came into force, establishing the Ministry of Transport and Communications as the body responsible for regulating the postal service. This law also introduced a public monopoly until the end of 2002 in the universal services reserved sector for items weighing not more than 350g.

Amendments to the Postal Services Act were adopted at the end of 2001 and entered into force in 2002. As a result, the regulatory functions in this field could be transferred from the Ministry of Transport to the Communications Regulation Commission.

In 2004 Bulgaria adopted methodology determining a reasonable price for the universal postal service and demonstrating the failure of universal service provision in the absence of profitability.

In 2005 a Bill which is being drafted should lead to the effective supply of universal services, as well as the full transposition of the second Postal Services Directive.

However, a system for quality measurement and cost accounting and accounting mechanisms still need to be put in place.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

 
Last updated: 24.01.2006
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