Paper Title
Impact of Structural Funds on Regional Competitiveness: the Case of Bulgaria

Abstract
In the current knowledge driven economy, countries, regions and even cities strive to be competitive in order to survive in the new global marketplace and the new economic competitive environment, without any clear political or conceptual framework. Moreover, the process of European Union integration aims to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the fragmented European economy in the face of increasing internationalization, exposing countries and regions with unequal resources and technology and different economic structures to international competition. Such is the case of Bulgaria that, after joining the European Union in 2007, was given an opportunity to recover in terms of competitiveness and economic growth, through structural funds as a form of nonrefundable financial help. In this respect, the paper aims to analyze the relation between structural funds’ absorption and the degree of regional competitiveness for the six development regions of Bulgaria, during the first programming period. The obtained results underline the critical influence of these funds upon Bulgaria’s regional competitiveness, providing reliable data for policy decision makers. Keywords- Competitiveness, Development Regions, EU Structural Funds, Regional Competitiveness.