H.E. Campagnola: Italy - First EU Founder to Ratify Bulgaria's Treaty

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | December 13, 2005, Tuesday // 00:00
H.E. Campagnola: Italy - First EU Founder to Ratify Bulgaria's Treaty Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia News Agency)

Italy's Ambassador to Bulgaria Gian Battista Campagnola was born in Rome. He graduated Political Sciences at the University of Rome. His diplomatic career has begun in 1982 at the State Protocol Office. Ambassador Campagnola has covered various diplomatic positions in Tokyo, Brussels, Miami, San Josй (Costa Rica), Belize. He has also been Head of Secretariat and co-ordinator of the economic activity of the Direction General of the Economic Affairs of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked as advisor for foreign affairs of the Minister of Foreign Trade and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Crafts. Ambassador Campagnola has also visited lecture at the "Brookings Institute" of Washington on Transatlantic questions, and guest speaker at the University of Miami and the Florida International University on Italian-USA relations. Before being nominated for Italy's Ambassador to Bulgaria, Gian Battista Campagnola was Head of the Department for Relations with the Parliament of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Campagnola answered questions of Sofia News Agency Editor-in-Chief Milena Hristova.

This is the first interview in a series that will present to Sofia News Agency readers the views of EU member states ambassadors on Bulgaria's EU prospects.

Q: Which were Bulgaria's achievements and failures in 2005 in its efforts to draw closer to EU accession?

A: Over the last few years Bulgaria has progressed quickly and substantially towards EU accession, as proved by the finalization of the negotiations with the Commission at the end of June 2004 and by the signature of the Accession Treaty on April 25th 2005.
Taking into account the specific features of the preparation process to EU membership - from the end of the negotiations through the monitoring of the implementation of the commitments taken by the candidate country until the full accession, we can observe that in such a fast progressing evolution remarks and recommendations in some key areas represent quite a physiological state (as it was the case for the countries of the first wave of the fifth enlargement). Indeed, they aim at helping each candidate shape in the best way its own internal process of legislative and concrete adaptation not only to the EU acquis, but also to European standards and practices. This is especially true as far as reforms in crucial sectors such as Justice and Home Affairs or State Administration are concerned.

Despite the electoral process and the long, complicated and delicate government formation, in 2005 Bulgaria has marked important steps in the implementation of EU recommendations by the adoption, for instance, of the new Penal Procedure Code, by the drafting of the new Administrative Code, by the constitutional amendments linked to EU accession and the forthcoming ones concerning the judiciary, by the finalization of a huge number of pieces of secondary legislation. Italy is confident that the Bulgarian Government and Parliament will constructively react - as usual - to the October 2005 comprehensive monitoring report and will not spare their efforts to meet the necessary requirements to respect the target date of January 1st 2007 for the full EU membership.

Q: What should Bulgaria do during the first half of next year to keep January 1st 2007 a feasible target date for EU accession?

A: As for any country preparing for such an historical step as the accession to the EU, a strong and univocal political will, as well as commitment to all the engagements undertaken are preconditions for a successful completion of the preparation. I would not give any specific indications, as the course of action is well known to the Bulgarian institutions and has been traced well enough by the EU. Indeed, Bulgaria doesn't need a philosopher's stone. For example, the timely implementation by the Bulgarian Parliament of the whole EU related legislation programme - which is very intense - would be crucial. At the same time, however, there should be a similar commitment of all the other actors concerned (ministries, local administrations, civil society, etc.) to an exact and factual implementation of the new regulations and to the achievement of further encouraging and visible results. A common awareness of the joint responsibility for the above results will definitely be of paramount importance.

Q: Could a delay in the complete ratification of Bulgaria's EU accession treaty by all member states deal a blow to the country's accession in 2007?

A: I would not subscribe to such a catastrophical scenario. There are clear indications that Bulgaria is endowed with adequate capacity to achieve specific results over the next few months in order for the last monitoring report in spring 2006 to positively assess the country's preparation. Although there is no formal linkage between the two things, a favourable conclusion of the monitoring process could probably lead to an acceleration of the ratification process in some member states.

As far as Italy is concerned, I would like to underline that we have always put a particular stress on the relevance of Bulgaria as a strategic European partner in the region. Its crucial role represents a key element in the peaceful stabilization and development of this geographic area. We acknowledge Bulgaria as a country with stable democratic institutions and a dynamic free market economy and we emphasize its example as a factor for peace, stability and security in the Balkans. Furthermore, we are aware that Bulgaria will be a fundamental element of the so-called southern dimension of Europe, as future external border of the European Union and of its common space of freedom, security and justice.

Q: Italy has repeatedly declared its firm support for Bulgaria's EU accession in 2007. When do you expect the ratification process to be concluded?

A: My country believes that the historical process of reunification of Europe fully entails the integration of Bulgaria, for two main reasons: the common cultural and historical heritage and tradition and the virtuous circle of reforms currently in act in this country. On the one hand, Bulgaria has the right to be restored in the place it historically deserves because of its fully European cultural tradition, which is to be considered one of the milestones of our continent's civilisation. On the other hand, the country has proved its determination and capacity to cope with serious political challenges and to implement difficult decisions in order to fulfil the European political, economic and legislative criteria.

That is why the Italian Government has always assured a strong and constant support to the Bulgarian European aspiration, with a view to give the country the necessary time and means to complete its integration process. Some key steps are worth mentioning: for instance, the semester of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, with the closure in November 2003 of one of the most complex and difficult negotiating chapters - no. 24 on Justice and Home Affairs - and the work done in December of the same year at the European Council of Brussels to eventually fix January 2007 as a target date for Bulgaria's accession to EU. On the basis of our firm conviction of the continuous willingness of the Bulgarian political environment and civil society to fully assume - together with the benefits - also the responsibilities and obligations of European integration, the two-chamber Italian Parliament is currently working on a quick ratification procedure of the EU accession treaty of Bulgaria. The draft bill has already been passed by the Senate on 22 November 2005 and immediately after entered the Chamber of Deputies. As it is quite high in its agenda, I hope that the full ratification of the treaty will be finalized over the next few weeks. Our ambition is to become the first EU founder state to complete its procedure. In this regard, it is to be noted that both in the Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies the rapporteur of the bill is the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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