EU after the Belgian Presidency and where Bulgaria is

(Sofia, December 20th 2010, Radisson Hotel)

The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria was a partner in organizing the discussion EU after the Belgian Presidency and where Bulgaria is”, held on the 20th of December, at Radisson Blu Hotel, jointly with the Paneuropa Movement and the Open Society Institute.

As a special guest, the Belgian Ambassador Marc Michielsen summarised the results of the presidency in the past six months. Ambassador Michielsen stressed on the measures that are necessary to be taken to counteract the negative effects of the economic and financial crisis. He also underlined the importance of the work that has to be done for the implementation of the Stockholm programme in the fields of interior and judiciary, and in the social dimension of the EU. He reminded the audience that 2010 was the year of combating poverty.

During the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the clusters of major importance, reflecting the main tasks, were:

- Combating the economic & financial crisis
- Reinforcing the social dimension of the EU
- Implementing the Stockholm Program Action Plan in matters of Justice & Home Affairs
- Environment and Climate
- External dimension: enlargement and common trade

Some of the most important actions during the period were related to:
  • Final report Task force and decision on permanent mechanism for financial stability, increase of European economic coordination and governance, plus decision to change the Lisbon treaty  
  • Adoption of legislation on financial regulation and supervision by financial control structures for banks, insurance companies and financial markets
  • Directive on untimely payments by public sector to companies 
  • Employment strategy in the context of EU 2020 : adoption of the targets of a new employment strategy
  • Criminal matters (human trafficking), home affairs/terrorism (agreement EU/US on financial information; start negotiations exchange passenger information); Justice (cooperation on divorce legislation)
  •  Legislation on green transportation and energy in preparation (Eurovignette, etc.)
  • Enlargement: start of negotiations with Iceland, progress in the negotiations with Croatia, opening a new chapter with Turkey, giving candidate status to Montenegro, making a decision about asking the Commission to award candidate status of Serbia
As a conclusion, the mission of the Belgium presidency was accomplished by serving EU interests, achieving a good level of cooperation within the EU-27 and good relations with EP, and the Commission.

At the same time, the Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov presented a report with a focus on organized crime, corruption, justice policy and the future Bulgarian membership in the Schengen agreement. Minister Tsvetanov declared that amendments in the interior law will be made by the end of December. He also stressed on the fact that the “Open Society” recommendations are taken into account and some of them are already under implementation. Minister Tsvetanov said that Bulgaria would be ready for joining the Schengen space by March 2011.