Bulgaria on the Hot Seat

Lyubomir Kyuchukov, Director of the Economics and International Relations Institute

Bulgarian presidency of the Council of EU will be successful. And what is more - it will be considered as such unanimously. Because there has not been unsuccessful presidency until now.

The European Dossiers

The actual contribution of each presidency is evaluated according to the number of closed European dossiers, i.e. these issues that are the topics of several consecutive presidencies and are related to key spheres for the Union. Here, Bulgaria’s role in moderating the discussions and finding joint decisions is entirely a function of the positions of individual countries and their willingness to make compromises in the name of the common good. Something that is achieved much harder lately. At present, there are nearly 120 dossiers on the agenda, and it is expected about 20 more to be opened. What is more, the dossiers are not closed separately, but in thematic packages. It would be an achievement if, during the Bulgarian presidency, several packages are closed, including the one concerning the migration problems and the right to asylum (containing 7 dossiers, the most complex being the renegotiation of the Dublin Regulation), or the EU energy policy.

The Bulgarian Priority

The Western Balkans mark serious climb upwards in the priorities of the EU. It is because Europe is afraid of the Western Balkans, but is also worried about them. Particularly due to the danger of increased influence of external factors (Russia, Turkey, radical Islam), which is caused mainly by the lack of interest in the region by the EU in the recent years. The achievable goal for the Bulgarian presidency would be for the Strategy (the so called Thessaloniki Agenda adopted during the Greek Presidency in 2003, giving European integration prospects for the whole region) to be reanimated, new processes to be generated, policies to be made more dynamic. And as a more ambitious plan – a Sofia road map for the European integration of the Western Balkans to be adopted.

The Problems

The context: During the Bulgarian Presidency there will be an intensive debate on the future of the EU based on Juncker’s proposals, the key phase of the Brexit negotiations will take place, the discussion on the future EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (the budget) will begin. 

All these against a background of several additional issues:

Germany: The difficulties in forming a government reduce Germany’s involvement in the EU, and will actually lead to delayed examination and possible closing of some European dossiers, because it is logical to wait for the determination of the national position by the new government.

Poland: Activating the procedure for the suspension of the country’s voting rights (unprecedented) will cause new tension on the East-West axis of the EU, as well as between the Commission and some member-states (Hungary on the first place). It is likely that an extraordinary (and extremely hard) Council of the EU will be held in the beginning of the 2018 (presided by Bulgaria), when the fate of the proposal will be decided. 

Catalunya: The EU’s position is unambiguous - not recognising the independence of the region. However, the political tension in Spain will affect the Union’s work as a whole, and at the same time, separatist tendencies in other countries will be urged.

What is important for the presidency is not only to be considered successful but also to be remembered as such.




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Етикети: Bulgaria EU Presidency | Lyubomir Kyuchukov | Economics and International Relations Institute

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