Business confidence for next year is even lower than during the 2008-09 financial crisis and the height of the pandemic according to the 30th consecutive edition of the annual Eurochambres Economic Survey. Concerns about affordable access to energy and raw materials, skills shortages and labour costs are among the key challenges that shape the findings, based on responses from over 42,000 companies in 25 European countries.
The worrying results of the survey are a consequence of the unprecedentedly strong headwinds encountered by businesses across Europe due to the impact of the Covid pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine and energy cost driven inflation. All EES2023 indicators show that businesses expect things will get worse before they can get better.
At the same time, however, the results from Bulgaria show more favorable expectations for 2023. across almost all indicators in the survey. Expectations are that the business climate will improve in 2023, with estimates for maintaining the same level as the previous year and those with a positive trend prevailing, against the background of negative expectations. We should not fail to consider that it will be difficult to reach the positive expectations for the development of the business climate from 2020. (held in September 2019), when expectations had a positive trend and did not imply the development of a pandemic.Entrepreneurs are grappling with rising wage and production costs, as well as uncertainty about supply chains and the economic outlook. Reflecting this, there are sharp year on year drops in export, employment and investment expectations, while domestic sales forecasts are slightly down compared to 12 months ago.
For Bulgaria, however, the expectations related to sales in the country and abroad, the preservation with a tendency towards an increase in employment and investments are at better levels compared to last year's edition. These positive assessments, related to the preservation and increase of investments, are related to the great expectation of companies' access to funds from the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability. At the same time, the country has a chronic shortage of all kinds of personnel in almost all sectors of the economy, so those who will hire this year are more than those who intend to lay off employees, and despite the crises, unemployment continues to be low levels.
The main challenges in 2023 in Bulgaria, it is expected to be related to the availability (prices) of energy and raw materials, followed by the lack of personnel and labor costs. The requirements for sustainable development are not yet considered as one of the major challenges by Bulgarian entrepreneurs, but in some European countries they are on the agenda.
According to the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a joint EU effort is needed to help businesses cope with high energy prices, to improve energy efficiency and to ensure affordable and reliable renewable energy. Action is needed to address the remaining barriers in the single market to create further opportunities for growth, as well as creating a proactive and ambitious EU trade agenda and regulatory process that makes businesses more competitive.