11 February 2011, Radisson Hotel, Sofia
On 11 February 2011, The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, with the support of the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy, organized a public speech by Janusz Lewandovski, Budget and Financial Programming Commissioner at the European Commisssion. The speech was entitled “Financial Stability of the EU: Challenges for National Budgets and the EU Budget in the Future” and was held at the Radisson SAS Hotel, in Sofia.
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 a ten percent utilization was not satisfactory and that Bulgaria needed to present more proof that it was using the European money efficiently. In this regard, Mr. Lewandowski expressed his optimism that more funds would 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 was among the EU countries, which were not subject to the Excessive Deficit Procedure anymore. The cancelation of the procedure, in the Bulgarian case, was a very good signal to investors and had 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 could not 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, at that moment, there was 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 was important that the Euro would not be allowed to fail, especially after so much effort had been put into its creation and maintenance.
When talking about the future economic aims, the Commissioner said that it was 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, were presently building brand new mechanisms for strict financial control and economic governance that were unprecedented.