Bulgaria joined the European Union on 1 January 2007, after a long period of preparations. This followed a 28% decline in GDP immediately after the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s. Accession to the bloc was seen as a way to improve the country’s regional integration, boosting foreign direct investment, cross border trade and tourism. Accession would also provide a substantial impetus to the country’s Good Relations with Neighbours and overall Positive Peace Index scores.
In preparation for accession, the Bulgarian government and international agencies implemented a range of measures that increased income and consumption across the nation. Authorities took steps to rein in inflation and to attract greater levels of foreign direct investment. Deep economic reforms were also undertaken, reducing the size of the government and improving administrative efficiency.
As a consequence, between 2003 and 2007, the average per-adult income rose by 37% across the country. In rural areas this increase reached 57%. Household consumption also increased by 21% over the period. Bulgaria’s GDP, which had hovered below $20 billion per year (current $USD) for the entire 1990s, soared to $54 billion by 2008.