Bulgaria's New MEPs to Stress Refugee Issues, Eurozone Accession
Bulgaria's new MEPs have cited eurozone and Schengen accession, the refugee influx, and the abolition of the progress reports of the European Commission as key priorities.
The MEPs gave a press conference Monday at the European Parliament Information Office in Bulgaria to present their agendas in the new European Parliament.
The meeting was not attended by all of Bulgaria's newly elected MEPs, with Sergey Stanishev and Nikolay Barekov being among the notable absences, according to reports of investor.bg.
Svetoslav Malinov (Group of the European People's Party) cited Bulgaria's accession to the eurozone as a key priority, adding that he was hoping that all Bulgarian MEPs would embrace this goal.
He claimed that the events from the past few weeks in the banking sector confirmed this need, adding that the issue was not entirely dependent on Bulgaria's will.
Malinov said that the achievement of consensus among the Bulgarian MEP would be excellent starting ground.
He declared that other important issues for the country included the European energy union and Bulgaria's active participation in it from the start, as well as the abolition of visas for US and Canada.
As regards the refugee policy, Malinov said that the legal framework in the sphere was unfair for Bulgaria and the countries which were "in the front lines". He called for putting an end to the injustice of having countries like Bulgaria, Greece and Italy exclusively shoulder the burden of defending EU's external borders.
Ilyana Yotova (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) agreed that the countries at the external border of the EU were adversely affected by the existing refugee policy.
Yotova, Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, said that she expected the next EU Commissioner in charge of internal security would secure the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen.
She made clear that the issues of migration and internal security, the fight against organized crime, Schengen accession and job creation were priority items on the agenda of socialists.
Yotova also vowed an active policy on the topics of personal data protection, the rights of child victims, migration and shelter, and the protection of people with disabilities.
Tomislav Donchev (Group of the European People's Party), member of the Committee on Regional Development, pledged to work on the issues of the common digital market. He drew attention to the fact that the EU budget amounted to a mere 1% of the gross national income, adding that it was negligible if one wanted to implement European policies.
Georgi Pirinski (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) brought up the issue of the cohesion policy, adding that Bulgaria still topped the poverty ranking of the EU despite its existence.
He agreed with Donchev on the need to put more resources into opposing calls of right-wingers in the European Parliament for budget cuts.
He suggested that the accession to the eurozone had to be on Bulgaria's agenda but cautioned against illusions that it would automatically solve the country's problems.
Momchil Nekov (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), member of the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, vowed to work to boost the popularity of the program "Erasmus+". He said he would endorse the construction of a third bridge over the Danube River connecting Silistra and Calarasi and seek to draw attention to the problem with physical inactivity.
As regards agriculture, Nekov said that the emphasis had to be on the development of organic farming and farming in mountain areas, where livestock breeding and vegetable growing could be developed.
Iskra Mihaylova (ALDE Group), Chair of the Regional Policy Committee, also noted that the refugee influx and migration were priority issues for Bulgaria.
She said that the liberals would back any activity aimed at economic growth and job creation which involved the protection of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Mihaylova also emphasized the importance of the policy on fundamental rights.
She went on to assure that it was not only Bulgaria which had had its EU funding under two operational programs frozen, adding that the total of blocked programs in the EU stood at around 90.
Mihaylova noted that she expected all Partnership Agreements with EU Member States, Bulgaria included, to be signed by end-October.
She also added that around 100 out of a total of 240 operational programs in the EU were to be approved by the end of 2014.
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