Bulgaria will work for united, strong Europe
The government discussed its priorities with the Commission
Maria Koleva, Brussels
10 November, 2017
I like the motto of the Bulgarian Presidency, “United we stand strong!”. That is true and has to be proved and will be proved in the six months of the Bulgarian Presidency, said Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, at a press point on 8 November held together with Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Prime Minister and Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. The occasion was the visit of the Bulgaria Government to the Commission and the discussions that the commissioners and Bulgarian ministers just held on the priorities of the upcoming in January next year first Bulgarian Presidency of the Council. It was preceded by a bilateral meeting between Juncker and Borisov.
Stating that Bulgaria will be the capital of Europe for the next coming six months, Juncker asserted that it is “a unique chance for this marvellous country, this great nation of Bulgaria to show, to prove, to demonstrate that the Bulgarians know what is what when it comes to Europe.” Since the very first day Bulgaria joined the European Union, Bulgaria is behaving like a founding member whereas other founding members are not always behaving like founding members, he stressed.
As Juncker mentioned, among the issues discussed was the “Sea2Sea” high-speed railway project which the EU will support by different means. He added that the Corridor 8 project is very important as it is linking via railway Tirana to Varna, uniting the Black Sea with the Adriatic. On Western Balkans, Juncker reiterated his conviction “that we will have to keep the European perspective open” and specified that he would like this to be understood, not as an invitation, but as a continental necessity in the countries concerned.
Giving clear European perspectives for Western Balkans is one of the main priorities of the presidency of the Council next semester, together with completing the digital single market and all remaining items on security and migration, economic governance, energy union, environmental protection, strengthening the role of Europe in the world. Saying that in this period are expected tough talks on Brexit, Borisov also underscored that for many years the topic Western Balkans has not been put on the table. “Now I see a real chance that we can advance on this and I am grateful that the European Council agreed to hold a meeting on 17 May 2018 in Sofia where the EU leaders will sit together with the leaders of the Western Balkan countries. There isn’t any risk for the EU when it lays out money for infrastructure, or competitiveness, and we are working now on the end of roaming fees for the Western Balkan countries,” he said.
We are talking about strong, united, digital Europe and this is something with special meaning to us, Mariya Gabriel emphasised. “It is about connections between people, creating a perspective, security and bringing in the European perspective of the Western Balkans.”