Bulgaria just started its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The country seeks to meet Europe’s challenges by preserving and strengthening unity and solidarity amongst the EU Member States.
Its declared priorities for the presidency are finding compromises in the areas of migration, the future of the EU cohesion policy, moving forward with the digital single market, as well as fighting youth unemployment. Furthermore, it will be interesting to observe how Bulgaria will bring in the Balkan perspective in order to mend in the area of migration policy and pre-accession talks with the Western Balkan countries.
On Wednesday 31 January we hosted a Liberal breakfast together with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Europe in Brussels to discuss about the priorities and challenges of the Bulgarian EU Presidency. The speakers were Iskra Mihaylova, ALDE Group MEP for MRF, and Ilhan Kyuchyuk, ALDE Party Vice President and ALDE Group MEP for MRF. The debate was chaired by Anguelina Piskova, Chief correspondent of the Bulgarian National Radio in Brussels.
During the discussion, ALDE Group MEP Iskra Mihaylova said: "Ten years have passed since Bulgaria joined the European Union. It was a challenge and now we have in front of us another challenge: the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The presidency comes at a moment when we expect many changes and reforms in the EU ahead of 2020."
"Our party MRF supports the priorities of the Bulgarian EU Presidency and the efforts of the Bulgarian society to participate in the decision-making process of the EU, but we do also have our concerns as Liberals. Among the priorities, we haven't heard the word 'reform', which is the typical approach of the current Bulgarian government. They think that the main focus should be on stability and on continuing the existing policies while changes and reforms would bring unstability. We would like to see more reforms, more changes and more proposals about future developments," she added.
ALDE Party Vice President and ALDE Group MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk said: "One of the main focuses of the Bulgarian EU Presidency will be on the Western Balkans. We live in turbulent times and European identity is questioned, therefore it is time to show to our neighbours that they are not forgotten and that they are part of Europe too. More than ever the Western Balkans need political and financial support, so I would like the Bulgarian EU Presidency to take the leadership in guiding them in their path to European integration. The history of the Western Balkans is full of ethnic cleansing and the only way to overcome history is to have democratic countries integrated in the European Union."