Bulgaria ranks 21st in the European Union in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. The country is in a currency board arrangement that pegs the national currency to the euro.
The BNB (Bulgarian National Bank) fixing is 1 euro = 1.95583 lev (BGN). Bulgaria has an open market economy, a medium-sized private sector and a relatively small domestic market.
After Bulgaria's accession to the EU, there is a steady process of alignment with the community incomes, which has been significantly slowed down in the years of the global economic crisis but has accelerated again in the past three years. In 2016, the country's economy grew by 3.9 %, which is the fourth highest growth among all EU member states.
The main driver of economic growth is export, and it exceeded its pre-crisis levels as early as 2011. In 2016, its share in the GDP was 64 %. The real growth in commodity exports of 7.9 % in 2016 is the third highest in the EU, and this is achieved under the conditions of an unstable external environment.
Immediately after joining the EU, Bulgaria reached historically low levels of unemployment. Due to the impact of the global economic crisis, that rate has risen, but has seen a decline in recent years. In 2016, the rate was 7.6 %. Positive developments are particularly visible among people with higher and secondary education.
Low corporate tax rates and personal income taxes improve the business environment and encourage investment. After joining the EU, Bulgaria increased the collection rate and the tax culture of society is rising.
Good business conditions are evident from international standings. According to the World Bank Doing Business Report 2017, Bulgaria ranks 39th among 190 countries in terms of business regulation efficiency and 20th among EU member states.
Financial stability is a major economic priority for Bulgaria. In the years leading up to the global crisis, the country has accumulated budget surpluses that formed fiscal buffers, thus neutralising the negative effects on the fiscal system. Bulgaria is among the few member states that have maintained the level of government debt and deficit among the lowest in the EU. Only a few years after the crisis began, Bulgaria managed to bring the budget deficit back to sustainable levels, and in 2016 it was reduced to zero.
The country holds one of the top positions in the EU with a low level of consolidated government debt. Its value amounts to 29 % of GDP for 2016 and places Bulgaria in third place after Estonia and Luxembourg.
Economic development is directly related to the successful implementation of infrastructure projects and the expansion of the road network in the country.
In recent years the road network in Bulgaria has expanded considerably. Over 300 km of new motorways were built with the aid of the European Union, doubling the motorway network that existed before 2007. The construction of Trakia, Maritsa and Lyulin motorways were completed and 69 km from Struma Motorway were completed. Work on it is ongoing at the moment. By the end of the current programming period the construction of the most complex stretch of the Kresna gorge will be completed. After its completion, a motorway will connect Sofia and the border with the Republic of Greece.
Priorities in the road infrastructure development strategy up to 2022 are – the completion of the Struma, Hemus, Cherno More and Kalotina - Sofia motorways, the construction of the tunnel under the Shipka mount, the Rousse - Veliko Tarnovo motorway and the Vidin-Botevgrad dual carriageway.