The Economic Program was established with CSD's founding in late 1989 to pioneer the development of a competitive private sector governed by transparent and sound public and private policies, capable through democratic partnership of successfully integrating the country's economy into the EU.
In its work the Economic Program employs several major tools to make a difference in Bulgaria's economic development:
- Partnership and Interdisciplinary Action - these are the cornerstones of CSD work. The economic team has been able to establish lasting, productive relations to all relevant stakeholders to Bulgaria's economic development. The Program draws on the experience of CSD's Law, European and Sociological program and on a pool of outside experts.
- Advocacy based on Research - the Program initiates needed changes to economic policy and legislation backed by a solid, unbiased and balanced research and its recommendations.
- Networking and Institutional Contacts - in a global world the Economic Program invests to stay connected to both cutting-edge developments on an international scale and latest trends in the local economy.
- Innovation - bearing a distinctive CSD mark, the Economic Program pursues innovation in all its activities, pioneering many of the reforms in Bulgaria's recent economic development.
- Education, Training, Promotion - CSD is committed to sharing and spreading knowledge to a wider constituency to sustain the impact of its activities.
The scope of activities of the Economic Program are broad and cover all major aspects of the economic transformation process in the country since 1989 - institutional reform, mass and market-based privatization, municipal privatization, foreign and domestic investment, debt conversion, social security and the labor market, brain-drain, capital market development, SMEs, EU integration and its impact on Bulgaria, trade and economic cooperation, banking and monetary policy reform, tax reform, inflation and pricing policy, agricultural reform, public sector accountability, regulatory reform, gray economy, competition, corporate governance, IT and economic development, etc. (for a detailed account of activities see Economic Program's History).
Some of the ground breaking initiatives of the Economic Program throughout the years include:
- Privatization and Small Business Development in Bulgaria: First Steps and Policies - a policy recommendation paper adopted in 1992;
- Regulations for a National Mutual Fund, adopted by the Council of Ministers, and an Agriculture Development and Assistance Fund, adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1994;
- Debt Conversion Program to assist Bulgarian authorities in drafting the arrangements for Debt - Equity Swaps in 1994;
- Policy and Legal Environment for the Growth of SME Sector in Bulgaria - the first comprehensive action program for the development of small business in Bulgaria, January 1997;
- Strategy for Accelerating the Privatization Process 1997-1998 adopted by the Council of Ministers in the fall of 1997;
- Institutional and Policy Framework for the Development of Capital Markets in Bulgaria - a legislative agenda for the institutional development of capital markets in Bulgaria in 1997
- Initiator and founding member of the Corporate Governance Initiative in 1999 for studying and influencing corporate practice to reach excellence;
- Launching the Bulgarian Development Gateway to expand the frontiers of the knowledge society to Bulgaria (2000);
- The Informal Economy in EU Accession Countries - a study, which has been acknowledged by the EU Commission and the Italian Presidency in 2003 as a valuable input in the European debate on the topic.
Over the years distinguished economists and experts have been part of the team of the Economic Program to move later on to important positions in the private and public sector and on the international field. Thus the Program produces an ever expanding pool of highly qualified scholars and managers. In the early 1990's Dr. George Prohasky, an expert in the filed of economic policy making and later on Chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and of the Center for Economic Development, launched the first projects in which the program was involved. He was replaced by Dr. Todor Gradev and Dr. Spartak Keremidtchiev, experts in microeconomic management and economic forecasting and modeling who left to establish the Club Economica 2000. In 1996 Dr. Daniela Bobeva became the coordinator of the program before she joined the government as head of the Foreign Investment Agency and later as Minister of Trade in the caretaker government of 1997. In the period 1997-2000 Dr. Maria Prohaska, an expert in transition economics, social policy and public administration, ran the program activities.