Priority axes

The main objective of Priority Axis 1 Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development is to improve the quality of life and growth in the medium-sized and large cities in Bulgaria. Complete strategies for sustainable and integrated urban development on local level are supported. This is one of the major principles of ERDF – to support the sustainable urban development through comprehensive strategies on tackling the economic, environmental, climate, social and demographic problems in urban areas. This principle has a double significance: on one hand the resources need to be allocated in an integrated manner to the targeted areas with specific urban challenges and at the same time urban development projects funded under ERDF have to be integrated in the wider objectives of the Programmes.  

The investments under Priority Axis 1 are made on the basis of local strategies on sustainable urban development – Integrated Urban Restoration and Development Plans (IURD). They have been elaborated by 39 cities for support under Priority Axis 1 in cooperation with local communities.  The plans are main strategic documents which the Regional Development Plans will be implemented through. IURD are implemented through the investment Programmes of municipalities which include projects and activities for support and funding under OPRG 2014-2020. The support is focused on preliminary determined areas for influence with a view to achieve concentration of resources and impact at the lowest territorial level. Integrated projects on the territory of these areas are implemented to achieve interaction and mutual complementarity between different types of measures – for example, infrastructure for better urban environment, energy efficiency, educational, social, sports and culture infrastructure and integrated public transport.


The 39 municipalities – beneficiaries under Priority Axis 1 Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development  are also Intermediate Bodies under the Operational Programme. In each one of them a Body that evaluates the projects submitted under Priority Axis 1 to the municipality has been set. The Intermediate Bodies have been created within the administration with clear delimitation of functions and responsibilities to ensure the separation of the Bodies responsible for the elaboration and implementation of projects.

What type of activities are eligible for funding?

- Energy efficiency activities: Implementation of energy efficiency measures in residential buildings, students’ dormitories and administrative buildings of the state and municipal administration; Submitting loans or guarantees for renovation of residential buildings and students’ dormitories  

- Integrated public transport activities: Elaboration of traffic management plans and introducing Intelligent transport systems (ITS); Improving the accessibility to the public transport stops and the bringing infrastructure (underpasses and overpasses); Developing and improving systems for public transport, including purchase of new vehicles for the needs of the public transport.

- Urban environment activities: Construction and restoration of parks, green areas, children’s playgrounds; zoos; urban grounds; spaces between residential buildings, free sports playgrounds, etc. Construction and rehabilitation of pedestrian crossings and sidewalks, building of cycle ways and alleys, pedestrian areas, underpasses and bridges for pedestrians and bicyclers; Installing of energy saving street lightning as well as security and crime fighting systems;

- Areas with economic development potential activities: Improving the existing or building new technical infrastructure connected to business and entrepreneurship; Construction and renovation of business and industrial areas, incl. public or trade buildings; Planting, recreation areas, cycle ways, bicycle and car parks for people working at economic areas;

- Social infrastructure activities: Support for securing modern social homes for vulnerable, minority and socially disadvantaged groups; Overhaul, construction and equipping of the municipal infrastructure to provide services for the elderly and the disabled; Overhaul, construction and equipping of appropriate municipal infrastructure for providing services for children.

- Cultural infrastructure activities: Development of cultural infrastructure through building, reconstruction, renovation, equipping and furnishing of cultural centres, theatres, cultural clubs, libraries, opera houses, galleries, cultural exhibition halls and other culture institutions, incl.  adjoining areas.

- Educational infrastructure activities: Building, reconstruction, renovation and equipping of municipal educational schools;

- Sports infrastructure activities: Building, reconstruction, repair, equipping and furnishing of sports infrastructure for popular sport such as sports halls, swimming pools, football fields, stadiums for public use, combined fields for volleyball and basketball, tennis courts and others.

The main objective of Priority Axis 2 Support for Energy Efficiency in support centres in the peripheral areas is to assist energy efficiency measures in public and residential buildings in small cities as part of a set of measures that should be taken to mitigate the processes of decline and emigration of the population from the small cities and their neighboring rural areas. The financial support under OPRG will increase the energy efficiency and quality of life in settlements; will improve the access and submitting of public services with a view to better service of the population in the peripheral areas and improving the city – countryside relation.

The activities that may receive funding under it include: Implementation of energy efficiency measures in residential buildings of state and municipal administration as well as in public municipal buildings of educational, cultural and social infrastructure. 

Priority axis 3 Regional Educational Infrastructure is aimed at modernization of secondary and higher education institutions of regional and national importance which will lead to decrease of the number of students that leave the educational system and will influence the increase of the number of people with higher education.

The financial support under OPRG is focused on educational infrastructure improvement in the professional, specialized, special and sports schools, schools for culture and art, higher educational schools of national and regional importance.   

Improved conditions in the educational institutions of national and regional importance are expected to keep children and youngsters in school and to have positive impacts on their motivation to actively participate in the educational process. Better educational outcomes in the longer term will stimulate employment and reduce youth unemployment.

Eligible for funding are:

- Construction and repair of public and municipal schools of national and regional importance as well as universities, including their adjoining yard areas; 

- Delivery and installation of equipment and furniture for the aforementioned buildings/premises as part of their overall renovation.

The main objective of the Priority Axis 4 Regional health infrastructure is to provide timely access of the population to quality emergency medical care across the country, in accordance with the approved national standards. The financial support under OPRG is aimed at improving infrastructure and purchasing equipment for emergency medical care centres and hospitals with casualties that will improve the quality of the services provided.

The activities and measures under the priority axis will be targeted at the 28 regional Centers for Emergency Medical Care (CEMC) and their affiliates in municipalities as well as the casualties in 33 state hospitals and the only one specialized state hospital for emergency care in Bulgaria - UMHATEM "N. I. Pirogov" EAD.

Under this priority axis eligible for funding are:

- Purchase of modern sanitary vehicles provided with communication equipment and medical equipment for emergency medical care, and potential for remote consultations (telemedicine); 

- Reconstruction, equipment and furnishing of the affiliates of the Emergency medical care centers (EMCC) and casualties in 33 public hospitals and the only one specialized state hospital for emergency care in Bulgaria - UMHATEM "N. I. Pirogov" EAD.

The main objective of the Priority Axis 5 Regional Social Infrastructure is to continue and upgrade the successful experience under the Regional Development 2007 – 2013 Operational Programme  in the process of deinstitutionalization of social services for children and the elderly. The main result that should be achieved is the successful continuation of the processes on exchanging care in an institution with a family care or close to the family background, in the community. The financial support under OPRG is directed to infrastructure improving and building of family type placement centres, day centres for rehabilitation, sheltered housing, etc., to ensure qualitative social services according to the individual needs of the vulnerable groups of children and adults. An integrated approach with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Ministry of Health have been applied to achieve optimal results and an overall effect of the activities.

The activities that may receive funding are as follows:

- Building, reconstruction and furnishing of centres providing services for children at risk;

- Construction and furnishing of family type placement centres for children at risk and sheltered housing;

- Building, reconstruction and repair of infrastructure for providing services for early childhood development for children and their families;

- Construction of infrastructure for support services for children and adults;

- Construction and renovation of building stock for social services in the community of the elderly.

The major aim of the Priority Axis 6 Regional Tourism is protection and promotion of the cultural heritage through overall tourist products development, including the unused cultural tourism potential in the regions in Bulgaria. The financial support under OPRG is oriented to projects not only embracing solutions for conservation of a certain site of cultural heritage of national and world significance but also for its popularization and development as well as  potential to attract tourists. To achieve an overall influence the support through grant funding will be combined with financial instruments at project level and the assessment will be made on the basis of a business plan. The main results expected to be achieved are conservation and development of cultural heritage, improving the competitiveness of the Bulgarian tourism, creating conditions for development of additional tourist services and local business initiatives.

Eligible for funding are activities on:

- Development of cultural heritage sites of national and world significance, including religious institutions, through conservation, restoration, equipping, introducing contemporary methods, technics and translation programs, tourist guiding services, etc.

- Assisting the development of tourist products and market information such as marketing researches and impact analyses, regional researches of visitors, elaboration of marketing and advertising strategies and tourist products’ programs, creation of tourist packages and advertising activities;

- Development of tourist infrastructure necessary for the needs of attractions;

- Small-scale, revenue generating investments in trading areas and catering establishments, accommodation places, facilities for active rest within the cultural site or directly connected to it within the overall tourist product that can be supported by financial instruments;           

- Informing the public also through campaigns for improving the awareness concerning the cultural heritage and its preservation and conservation. 

The Priority axis 7 Regional Infrastructure is directed to investments in first, second and third class road network to improve the connectivity and accessibility of the minor and third-rate junctions of the Trans European transport network for freights and passengers. The improved road infrastructure will better the mobility, the access to new markets, business climate in the regions as a major prerequisite for investments drawing and creating new jobs. Investments in regions with tourist development potential will have additional added value by ensuring the access to tourist sites and attendance increase. Road infrastructure rehabilitation contributes to reduction of the harmful impact on the environment. The betterment of the qualitative features of roads reduces the time to move and secures the maintenance of constant speed of vehicles as thus it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions decrease.Road infrastructure modernization makes for reduction of social isolation of the remote and difficult of access regions.

Funding under the priority axis is submitted to secure the following:

- Connection and access to the Trans European transport network ensuring service of intraregional connections between cities through building, reconstruction and rehabilitation of first and second class (out of the Trans European transport network) as well as third class roads.

- Engineering solutions for green infrastructure - preventing and guidance equipment, vertical signalization, construction equipment for crossing under and over the infrastructure, etc. where necessary. 

The Priority axis 8 Technical Support aims to strengthen and increase the institutional capacity of the Managing Authority of the Regions in Growth 2014-2020 Operational Programme and the beneficiaries under the Operational Programme. The expected result is carrying out a smooth implementation, monitoring, evaluation, information and control of the Programme, thus securing a high level of putting fund under ESIF into use.

Funding eligible activities under this Priority Axis are as follows:

- Supply and maintenance of hardware and software as well as office equipment necessary for the management, implementation, evaluation and control of OPRG 2014-2020;

- Hardware and software supply for the beneficiaries concerning the implementation of OPRG 2014-2020 and the plans for their capacity strengthening; 

- Implementation assessment of OPRG 2014-2020 (including ongoing assessments);

- Support for monitoring the implementation of projects by beneficiaries;

- Participation in programs for exchange of experience and good practices both for the Managing Authority and the beneficiaries;

- Support for improving the awareness of public and attracting the interest of potential beneficiaries of OPRG 2014-2020;

-  Training of the staff of the Managing Authority of OPRG 2014-2020 and the beneficiaries;

- Organizing conferences, ˈtravelingˈ exhibitions and seminars, information campaigns, round tables and focus-groups, publications, polls, studies, seminars for encouraging civil support and responsibility for the investments proposed;

- Providing technical support for the cities – beneficiaries under the Priority axis 1 for creating urban networks and participation in events at European level related to the sustainable and integrated urban development.