Photos: Government Information Service
During the first six months of 2018, Bulgaria will be Europe’s capital. This is a unique opportunity for the country and its wonderful people to demonstrate that Bulgarians know what is important for Europe. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that in a joint press conference with Bulgarian Prime-Minister Boyko Borissov and the Bulgarian Euro Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. The Ministers in the Borissov’s cabinet attended a meeting with the College of Commissioners in Brussels, dedicated to the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council.
“I am not indifferent towards Bulgaria – I signed the Accession Treaty back in 2005 as President of the Council. Europe is part of the Bulgarian DNA and from the first day of its accession it behaves as a founder of the Union, whereas some of the founding members are not always acting as such,” Jean-Claude Juncker added.
Ten years after its accession Bulgaria will preside the Council of the European Union for the first time and will work on four main topics: the future of Europe with an emphasis on the Multiannual Financial Framework; the European perspective for the Western Balkans; security and stability; digital agenda.
“Bulgaria’s readiness for taking over the Presidency of the EU Council was assessed highly,” the Minister for the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency Lilyana Pavlova said after the meeting. “Today we concluded the phase of preparation and started the phase of all our political commitments and priorities. The final goal being a united, strong and digital Europe,” she added.
“We discussed the politics on the Balkans – an undoubtedly complex region, where Bulgaria plays a central role. I reconfirmed my understanding that it is important to keep the European perspective open for the countries from the Western Balkans. It is hardly likely for the European Union to be enlarged by 2019, but the membership perspective exists not simply as an invitation, rather as a necessity of the Community,” Jean-Claude Juncker stated. He said further that he liked the motto of the Bulgarian Presidency ‘United We Stand Strong’ and shared his expectation for this principle to be proved in the first half of 2018.
“The motto ‘United We Stand Strong’ is valid not only for Bulgaria, but also for Europe at this moment. In the global world of exceptional competition in each area, the unity of the EU member states can make us as strong as possible. This is why I believe that this slogan is appropriate for Europe, for Bulgaria and for the Presidency,” PM Boyko Borissov added.
“The most difficult Brexit negotiations are yet to be held. This is a rare chance for the Balkan Peninsula to replace the UK who is leaving the EU. This is a wonderful region, with wonderful nature, natural resources, exceptional cultural and historical heritage, which is an asset to all Europe. I proposed a simple solution that bears no risk for the European Union – infrastructure and competitiveness. If we build rail roads, ports and motorways – connections between the capitals on the Balkans – this will be good for the entire Europe,” Bulgarian Prime-Minister said.
The questions on the Cohesion Policy, the Common Energy Union, the Balkan Gas Hub and the Common Defense were also discussed in the joint session. “There is no topic where we differ from the representatives of the European commission,” Borissov noted.
“Only united we can do so that the future of Europe becomes the future of each and every one of our citizens, of our economies, of our communities. To me it is particularly important that the Bulgarian Presidency sets the emphasis on digitalization too. I sincerely believe that the future of Europe is digital too. And to us, it means much more - connectivity of people, prospects, stability and security,” Euro Commissioner Mariya Gabriel stated.