“Financial Stability of the EU: Challenges for National Budgets and the EU Budget in the Future”

(Sofia, February 11th, Radisson Hotel)

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The event was held at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Sofia, on the 11th of February, 2011. It was organised by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria (ACB) with the kind support of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD).

In his speech, Commissioner Janusz Lewandovski talked about the financial situation of the EU, the challenges in front of the national and Union budgets, the national austerity measures and the expectations for the future financial and economic developments. Additionally, Mr. Lewandowski covered the topics of receiving and spending of the structural and cohesion funds.

In respect to the Bulgarian performance in this area, the commissioner stated that ten percent utilization is not satisfactory and that Bulgaria needs to present more proof that it is using the European money efficiently. In this regard, Mr.Lewandowski expressed his optimism that more funds will be utilized due to the planned projects in the spheres of infrastructure and energy. Following this line of thought, Mr. Lewandowski made the wish that he would one day travel via highways to the Bulgarian Black Sea resorts of Zlatni Pyasatzi and Slantchev Bryag.

In terms of the current budgetary situation in Bulgaria, the commissioner underlined the fact that Bulgaria is among the EU countries, which are not subjects to the Excessive Deficit Procedure anymore. The cancelation of the procedure, in the Bulgarian case, is a very good signal to investors and has brought the country closer to the Eurozone, said the commissioner.

In regard to the economic and financial differences between the EU member states, Mr. Lewandowski said that the Union must not allow for some countries to be treated as second-class members. After all, the road, which our ex-Soviet Block countries had to take, continued the commissioner, was very difficult, and today, we cannot allow for another paradox to occur - to remain outside major processes within the EU, especially after covering such a huge distance.

In connection to the Eurozone problems, Lewandowski commented that, currently, there is a danger for the 27-member block to start moving rapidly in two separate directions. Therefore, the EU must not consent to the formation and capsulation of some sort of an internal Eurozone. According to the commissioner, it is important that the Euro will not be allowed to fail, especially after so much effort has been put into its creation and maintenance.

When talking about the future economic aims, the commissioner said that it is necessary for each member state to achieve financial stability together with a strong growth. Mr. Lewandowski noted that the states, which have adopted the common currency, are presently building brand new mechanisms for strict financial control and economic governance that are unprecedented.