Baron D.Janssen: Big Progress in Bulgaria's International Situation

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | September 28, 2004, Tuesday // 00:00
Baron D.Janssen: Big Progress in Bulgaria's International Situation Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (

Baron Daniel Janssen (born in 1936) is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Solvay S.A. He was also Chairman of the Executive Committee from June 2, 1986 till June 4, 1998. **

Baron Janssen talked to Editor Petya Bondokova

Q: In which field there has been the most progress since last year, and what are the new challenges for Bulgaria's economy?

A: Certainly there is a filed in which big progress has been made in one year time. It's the general international political situation for Bulgaria. Bulgaria is now a member of NATO and will join the EU in 2007. That's a big progress.

Another area of big progress is the success of the whole economy. The gross national product is growing by something like 5 - 5.5%, with low inflation, and that is really good news. Unemployment has gone down to 12.4%, which means good news for Bulgarian citizens. They have more jobs, and the country is growing. That's the good news.

The challenges are certainly joining the EU. There are only two and a half years left . There are many things to be done, and when you're in there will be many things to improve. That will also help the citizens of Bulgaria, but it's quite a challenge to do all that.

Q: What risks would Bulgaria face in case of entering the EU still not fully prepared?

A: There is still a little stick behind the door. Bulgaria must indeed achieve a certain number of conditions to definitely join in 2007. That's a risk.

The second one is certainly that when you've joined, if you don't apply fast enough this big number of laws and rules that govern all of us in the European Union, Bulgaria will stay behind. And then companies like us would prefer to invest in another country in the neighborhood, and not in Bulgaria.

Q: What is you impression of the progress Romania is making?

A: I know Romania much less than I know Bulgaria. I'm very impressed by what Bulgaria has been doing in the past years and is doing now. Of course, Romania had a great handicap due to the past political system - it was dramatic.

That country, which had good basis for the future, was really going backwards. Therefore I think they're trying to put up with it, but certainly in my view Bulgaria seems to be doing better.

Q: Could immigration and lapses in the educations system make Bulgaria's labour force shrink?

A: The quality of the labor force and of the skills, not only of labor force but of engineers and university graduates is something of great importance. Although Bulgaria is still a very poor country in European criteria, still it had a very high level of education. We are a bit worried because we have the impression that the level of education and of skills is not improving anymore. It's perhaps a bit stagnating - hopefully not going down.

That's a worry because the world is changing, technologies are new, one has to compete. Therefore one has to increase the level and that's also an important challenge for Bulgaria.

Q: In which fields in Bulgaria would you recommend investing?

A: There are many fields that have potential. From what I hear, tourism seems to be moving very fast and well. It's wonderful because it's using a lot of labor, it's very labor intensive, and therefore it seems there's a nice future for Bulgaria.

** Baron Daniel Janssen graduated as a civil engineer from the Brussels University in 1958 and earned a Certificate in Nuclear Physics a year later. In 1962, he obtained a master's degree in business administration at the Harvard University.

Baron Janssen served as chairman of the Federation of Belgian Chemical Industries from 1976 to 1979, chairman of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises from 1981 to 1984 and President of CEFIC in 1991 - 1992.

He is also director of Fortis S.A. /N.V. and of Schroders Plc, Lodon. Baron Janssen is vice-chairman of the Board of and of the Executive Committee of UCB, a Belgian pharmaceutical and chemical company, where he worked from 1962-1984 and of which he was chairman of the Executive Committee from 1975-1984 before joining Solvay.

Member of the Steering Committee of the Trilateral Commission and of the European Round Table of Industrialists. He is also on the Board of the Belgian-American Educational Foundation and chairs the Advisory Board of the Solvay Business School.

Baron Janssen brought a delegation of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) to Sofia for the annual meeting of the organization with Bulgaria's government

We need your support so can keep delivering news and information about Bulgaria! Thank you!

Interview » Be a reporter: Write and send your article
Bulgaria news (Sofia News Agency - is unique with being a real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news. The editorial staff also publishes a daily online newspaper "Sofia Morning News." (Sofia News Agency - and Sofia Morning News publish the latest economic, political and cultural news that take place in Bulgaria. Foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and World News in Brief are also part of the web site and the online newspaper. News Bulgaria