Photo: Velislav Nikolov (EU2018BG)
Minister Lilyana Pavlova opened the discussion on the future of the world in Bulgarian. “We are proud of our alphabet and during our Presidency we will speak and write in Cyrillic,” said the Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018 when opening the Economist World in 2018 Gala Dinner, held in Sofia this year. The emblematic annual The World In … Gala Dinners of the publication are held in different places around the world.
Minister Pavlova presented the Government’s priorities to the participants in the forum that had brought together Bulgarian and international businesses in Hall 3 of the National Palace of Culture, where important decisions on the future of Europe will be taken in the coming six months.
Minister Pavlova said that young people were regarded top priority. She pointed out that tackling the migration crisis and security of European citizens were the main challenges. She said that this country has succeeded in setting the topic of accession of the Western Balkans to the EU high on the European agenda.
The Minister shared some less known facts about Bulgaria with the participants from across the globe. Our country comes second after Iceland in the world in terms of thermal springs, with more than 200 types of geothermal water; third in Europe after Italy and Greece in terms archaeological artefacts; first in terms of lavender oil exports and in highest quality rose oil production. She mentioned some indicators showing that Bulgaria is one of the most stable European countries: economic growth of almost 4%, a strict fiscal policy, foreign debt of 26% with a tendency of decreasing, 1.3% inflation and 6% unemployment rate.
“I am positive that we can also be a digital hub on the Balkans,” Minister Pavlova said and supported that claim with some statistics: “In 2016, we had a 600% growth of the IT sector and every year it creates 300% more new jobs; the IT sector is expected to account for 5% of the GDP in the coming years.”
“I would very much like if we can bring Europe back on the scene of the global powers in terms of high performance computing technologies,” the Bulgarian European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said. She was a special guest of the forum. “We must work for unlocking the potential business, of small and medium-size enterprises, we must put an end to geographic blockage and, by the end of next year, make it possible for the businesses to grow and innovate,” she said.
Mariya Gabriel stated the EU’s ambitions to come back on the scene of global powers in the area of computing technologies and reminded the audience of the decision to invest €1 billion in the sector by 2020, and as soon as in 2019 that Europe has its own exascale supercomputer. “Internet security will be a key priority not only for the Bulgarian Presidency, but also for the Austrian and for the upcoming Presidencies,” she said. Commissioner Gabriel quoted some data, according to which 80% of the European companies do not realize the attacks but have experienced a cyber-incident in the past year. “In 2018, for the first time, we will create a mechanism for coordination between EU member states against a large scale cyberattack”, she added. “A network of computing centres will also be established which will attract experts from all over the continent. A lot of efforts will be invested in prevention. For the first time, there will be product security certification at a European level in order for the certificates, issued in one member state to be recognized in the others too. The EU will rely on mass awareness campaigns in all countries because more than 95% of cyberattacks are due to human unawareness.”
According to Mariya Gabriel even the best legislative provisions will be of no use if Europe does not invest in digital knowledge and skills of the people and provide good quality workers to the business. Because 80 million Europeans have never used the Internet, according to statistics, only 37% have digital skills, and in 2020, the majority of jobs will require such skills. “2018 will be a year of mobilization for all”, concluded the Bulgarian European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.
2018 will be emblematic – this was the summary offered by the Economist Magazine editor John Andrews, who skillfully moderated the discussion by asking the participants provocative questions. “This year we will be much better off than 10 years ago. And this is possible thanks to scientific discoveries, especially in medicine, some of which will be used for solving global issues,” he went on. “We could have a vaccine against malaria, we could have progress in artificial intelligence, but there could also be a nuclear war, triggered by a random tweet,” said John Andrews. “2018 is the year we will witness the Olympic Games in South Korea and the Football World Cup in Russia. That will mean new times for world sports and politics, he added. Changes in the leadership of global forces such as Japan and Saudi Arabia are expected, the Middle East could become a dangerous hotspot,” he forecasted.
“In the year of the dog, people will be loyal but also stubborn. We will be under the influence of “Trumpism” and “Macronism”, between the two poles of behaviour of the new leaders – from burying the head in the sand to a wide-open world. We will be solving corruption problems and cataclysms,” projected John Andrews. He concluded that the world was not happy, and that we continue polluting the seas and the oceans. And the “happy” countries develop the fastest – Bhutan and Djibouti have been in the top 10 of developing countries since 2007. This year we will also see some efforts to save the Great Barrier Reef as well as some campaigns for giving more attention to nature.
The two-hour long discussion on what to expect during and after 2017 was interrupted by short videos, showing the beauty of Bulgarian nature, of traditions of rose-picking and of the history of the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet.