Ms Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minster for Judicial Reform and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Biser Petkov, Minister for Labour and Social Policy, and Mr Rumen Porodzanov, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, addressed three European Parliament committees on Tuesday afternoon – Foreign Affairs (AFET), Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). They presented and discussed the presidency priorities as part of the traditional exchange of views with the European Parliament at the start of each presidency.
Presentation to AFET
Ms Zaharieva said: "The presidency will work in a spirit of transparency and in close cooperation with the member states and all EU institutions in response to the expectations of European citizens and young people in particular. In the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in particular, Bulgaria will proactively support the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the implementation of the EU Global Strategy and the related immediate EU priorities over the current semester. The Western Balkans are a key priority for the Bulgarian Presidency. They need more EU political support, delivered in a more visible way. Otherwise, we risk growing instability in the region, and the re-emergence of threats and risks for EU security. “
In the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Bulgaria will focus on:
- the Western Balkans
- the European Neighbourhood
- the cooperation with our key strategic allies and transatlantic partners
- the relations with key partners in the Asia-Pacific Region
- the external aspects of migration and on the fight against terrorism.
In the field of the Common Security and Defence Policy, Bulgaria will contribute to the ongoing work on the implementation of the Global Strategy defence package under the leadership of the High Representative.
The full statement by Ms Zaharieva will be available here:
Presentation to EMPL
Mr Petkov said: "Today, more than ever, we need to make sure that the needs of European citizens are the focal point of our attention. The positive economic growth that we have seen should be used to the maximum extent to strengthen resistance to future crises, to create jobs and to improve social justice." The minister pointed out that Bulgaria will seek to develop tools to generate effective joint action and strengthen the social dimension of the European Union through unity, justice and the cohesion policy.
In the area of social policy, Bulgaria will work to:
- Achieve progress in the area of the future of work, by finding solutions for productive employment and for sustainable and balanced economic growth.
- Steer the debate on the Future Funding for Social Europe and the opportunities for support from the European Social Fund after the 2014-2020 programming period.
- Promote the concept of early childhood development.
- Guarantee equal rights for persons with disabilities, by achieving significant progress and, if possible, reaching agreement in the trilogue on the European Accessibility Act.
- Ensure adequate protection of the rights of workers and of the freedom of companies to provide services. To achieve this, Bulgaria will focus its efforts on closing the negotiations on the Posting of Workers Directive and on reaching a partial general approach within the Council on the last two chapters of the proposal for a revision of Regulation No 883/2004 – unemployment benefits and additional provisions.
- Place particular emphasis on the occupational safety and health of workers with a view to avoiding the exposure of workers to carcinogens and mutagens.
- Conclude the work on the regulations for the three agencies – CEDEFOP, EU-OSHA and EUROFOUND.
- Make progress on the initiatives which form part of the Social Fairness Package, and those linked to improving the working conditions of European citizens and work-life balance.
The full statement by Mr Petkov is available here.
Presentation to AGRI
Mr Porodzanov said: "I will work with my fellow ministers to address a strong message to the European institutions about the importance of the CAP to all European citizens and its undisputed added value in securing public goods. I believe that the contribution of the CAP to controlling climate change should be recognised by society, thus avoiding the conflict between agriculture and the environment."
In the area of agriculture, Bulgaria will:
- Generate a debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and provide input to the Commission when it is drafting the respective legislative proposal.
- Continue to monitor the situation of agricultural markets closely, especially in sensitive sectors such as milk and dairy products, beef, pork and chicken, fruit and vegetables. Attention will be paid to the effects of the abolition of sugar quotas.
- Seek to close the negotiations on the spirit drinks proposal.
- In the forestry sector, the presidency will prepare the EU's participation in the 13th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF).
- In the veterinary sector, Bulgaria will focus on the sustainable management of animal health.
- In the field of plant health, the presidency will look for ways to make Europe better prepared to respond to crises.
The full statement by Mr Porodzanov is available here.
Bulgarian Ministers are presenting the presidency priorities to the European Parliament throughout the day on 23 January. Earlier today, ministers addressed the committees on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), Transport and Tourism (TRAN), and Culture and Education (CULT). Presentations to the committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) are also taking place today.
More Bulgarian ministers will address European Parliament committees on 24 and 25 January. The detailed schedule of the ministers’ interventions is available online.