The European Economic and Social Committee met in Sofia on 6 March 2018 to discuss policies in support of vulnerable regions and citizens.
The meeting provided a forum for the exchange of knowledge and good practices on the promotion of economic development and the prevention of rural depopulation. The delegates discussed ways to overcome regional employment and unemployment disparities and outlined measures needed to encourage investment in rural and mountain areas. The discussion focused on ways to create jobs for people with disabilities and ways to protect the rights of vulnerable citizens.
“In order to overcome regional imbalances, we need to mobilise significant institutional and organisational resources and implement an integrated approach that unites economic, financial, tax, social and employment policies”, said Biser Petkov, Bulgarian Minister of Labour and Social Policy, at the conference. The minister noted that unemployment in Bulgaria fell to a 10-year low at 6 % in 2017.
Minister Petkov further underlined that the best way to fight poverty and social exclusion of vulnerable groups is labour market integration, and presented the state measures in support of vulnerable groups in the labour market. These vulnerable groups include unemployed people up to 29 years old, long-term unemployed, people without a profession, unemployed people over the age of 50 and people with permanent disabilities.
Ensuring the rights of people with disabilities is among the main priorities both of the Bulgarian Government Programme for 2017-2021 and of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Bulgaria aims to create the right conditions and ways to guarantee the equal treatment and full participation of disabled people in all spheres of social life as well as to ensure their socio-economic protection.