• Bulgaria received a total of €1.11 billion in EIB Group financial commitments last year, more than double the €494 million in 2022.
  • Around 8 000 Bulgarian small, medium-sized and mid-cap companies benefited from the EIB Group’s operations, which supported about 181 000 jobs.
  • Last year’s financing is expected to mobilise over €5.4 billion in new investment.

Lending in Bulgaria in 2023 by the European Investment Bank Group (EIB Group) - made up of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) - more than doubled from the previous year, to €1.11 billion. The new financing is expected to mobilise investment of over €5.4 billion and support a more technologically advanced, green and resilient economy.

Almost all the support in 2023 went to projects that promote Bulgaria’s social and economic alignment with the rest of the European Union. About a fifth was dedicated to climate action and environmental sustainability. The EIB Group’s operations last year supported around 8 000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps and around 181 000 jobs in the country.

“We had a very strong year in Bulgaria,” said EIB Vice-President Kyriacos Kakouris at a press conference in Sofia. “The demand for our financing has grown exponentially. We provide our expertise and our long-term funding at preferential terms to support the resilience and competitiveness of Bulgarian private businesses and public entities.”

EIB Group financing in Bulgaria in 2023 equalled 1.17% of its gross domestic product, putting the country in the top three in the European Union on the basis of this indicator. The other two Member States are Estonia and Romania.

“We are pleased with our successful collaboration with the EIB during the significant challenges of recent years,” said Bulgarian Finance Minister Assen Vassilev. “The Bank assists in the implementation of a number of projects in the fields of energy, transport, regional development and the environment.”

In 2023, the EIB Group unlocked fresh liquidity for small businesses — the backbone of the Bulgarian economy. These companies make a major contribution to jobs, innovation and economic growth. But they often lack sufficient funding for business development and expansion.  

The EIB strengthened cooperation with Bulgaria’s national promotional bank BDB and signed a €175 million loan agreement to facilitate fresh financing for SMEs to improve productivity and spur their green and digital transitions.

Last year, the EIB Group signed its first synthetic securitisation agreement with ProCredit Bank Bulgaria, enabling it to provide new lending of €416 million to small businesses. Approximately 30% of this financing will support green projects.

In 2023, Bulgaria become the second EU country in which the EIF launched guarantee agreements under the country’s Recovery and Resilience Plan. The guarantees signed with four leading Bulgarian banks are expected to leverage up to €2 billion in financing for SMEs and mid-caps over time.

To upgrade healthcare, the EIB signed a €12.8 million loan agreement with the Municipality of Burgas to co-finance Bulgaria’s first children’s hospital, which will serve more than 220 000 children from south-eastern Bulgaria. The project, supported by the EIB Advisory Services, is one of the best examples of how the EU bank works to improve the well-being of Bulgarians and fellow EU citizens.

Last year, EIB Advisory worked with the Ministry of Health on another flagship healthcare project: the National Paediatric Hospital in Sofia. The teams produced a comprehensive health gap analysis and are now working with the Ministry of Health to prepare, evaluate and implement the project.

In the private sector, the EIB supported sustainable agriculture and clean transport. Sealing its first corporate transaction under the InvestEU programme, the EU bank provided a €50 million loan to Buildcom Group for a new grain terminal at the Black Sea port of Varna. A €35 million EIB loan to Agria Group Holding for the construction of a new sunflower oil processing plant will help the group improve agricultural production and access to export markets while creating jobs and strengthening rural areas. As part of a €40 million loan agreement with Eldrive Holding, some €6.8 million is earmarked for the installation of more than 1 000 new electric vehicle charging points in Bulgaria.

Last year, the Energy Agency of Plovdiv become the first Bulgarian entity to receive technical assistance under the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) programme to improve the energy efficiency of 46 public and private buildings in the city.

The EU bank continued to work on 32 assignments with the Bulgarian authorities under the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS) programme, providing hands-on support for EU-funded investment projects. In 2023, JASPERS assistance focused on the water, innovation and transport sectors as well as on the public administrations that handle EU funds, including climate proofing and state aid matters.

According to the EIB Investment Survey 2023 (EIBIS), corporate investment recovered, with 70% of firms having invested in 2022. This was up from 61% in the 2021 EIBIS, but still below the EU average of 85%. Investment in the country has yet to reach the levels seen before the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.

On the climate transition front, 56% of the respondent firms in Bulgaria said that weather had affected their business, up from 44% the previous year. Despite that, more Bulgarian firms see the transition to stricter climate standards and regulations as a risk for their activities (30%) rather than an opportunity (13%).                                                       

Background information


The European Investment Bank (ElB) finances sound investments that contribute to EU policy objectives. EIB projects bolster competitiveness, drive innovation, promote sustainable development, enhance social and territorial cohesion, and support a just and swift transition to climate neutrality.

The EIB Group, which also includes the European Investment Fund (EIF), signed a total of €88 billion in new financing for over 900 projects in 2023. These commitments are expected to mobilise around €320 billion in investment, supporting 400 000 companies and 5.4 million jobs.

All projects financed by the EIB Group are in line with the Paris Climate Accord. The EIB Group does not fund investments in fossil fuels. We are on track to deliver on our commitment to support  €1 trillion in climate and environmental sustainability investment in the decade to 2030 as pledged in our Climate Bank Roadmap. Over half of the EIB Group’s annual financing supports projects directly contributing to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and a healthier environment.

Approximately half of the EIB's financing within the European Union is directed towards cohesion regions, where per capita income is lower. This underscores the Bank's commitment to fostering inclusive growth and the convergence of living standards.