“Bulgaria is fully aware of the responsibilities incumbent on it as holder of the Presidency of the EU Council. We will be seeking solutions on the important pan-European issues based on solidarity and compromises, so that they would be acceptable to the greatest extent to all Member States,” Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva said when she conferred with EU Budget and Human Resources Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is visiting Sofia.
The two discussed the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council and its agenda, including the debate on the future of Europe, the post-Brexit budget challenges and the negotiations on the next Multiannual financial framework (MFF). Minister Zaharieva and Commissioner Oettinger concurred that a right balance should be found between new priorities, such as the Defence Fund, the Digital Agenda and flexibility facilities for crisis and migration response, and the EU’s traditional instruments and policies. The two were categorical that efforts should not be focussed in one particular area at the expense of other key policies and instruments. Commissioner Oettinger emphasised that new priorities like migration and defence should not be financed at the expense of the Cohesion Policy.
They also stressed the need of a more effective Cohesion Policy with tangible results for citizens and genuine convergence. “Our country is among the staunchest supporters of cohesion. To us, cohesion is not just infrastructure, it is a horizontal policy related to economic growth, incomes increase and job creation. It must be focused and targeted at people,” Minister Zaharieva pointed out.
“It is our ambition to participate actively in the preparation of the political debate on the next Multiannual financial framework, and we will make our contribution to the negotiations. We are working in close cooperation with the Finance Ministry team and the team of Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev,” she said further.
On the subject of the Western Balkans, Zaharieva pointed out that the European Union could help the region not just politically but also through practical action to stimulate this 22 million-strong market.