Minister Lilyana Pavlova on Bulgaria’s Upcoming Presidency of EU Council

November 30, 2017

On Jan. 1, 2018 Bulgaria will be the next country to take on the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Currently in the hands of Estonia, the presidency rotates among EU members every six months and during each mandate the different countries ensure the continuity of the union’s work in the Council. 

As this will be Bulgaria’s first time at the helm of the EU, many still wonder about the direction the country is going to take. To shed light on the goals and priorities of the presidency, Lilyana Pavlova, Minister of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, visited AUBG on Nov. 13 for a discussion with students and faculty.

Bulgaria plans to use “the three Cs,” as Pavlova referred to them – consensus, competitiveness and cohesion, to achieve global priorities like security, stability and economic development. Stemming from those, the country has defined four objectives that will be the main focus of the presidency.

The European perspective and connectivity of the Western Balkans is the goal Pavlova stressed on. She noted that the area needs to further extend its digital, energetic and educational connectivity.

“We are working very hard for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council to be the Balkan Presidency,” she said. “We want [that] because we know the area so well. We are not going to give any false expectations to our friends in the Western Balkans, but we are going to put it high on the agenda.”

The future of Europe and its young people, developing the economic growth and social connections is another priority of the Bulgarian Presidency. This was also key for Estonia and will be for Austria, the next country to take the lead in June. After Brexit, there are new challenges, higher demands and financial needs to be covered.

Another pillar for the term will be the European Union’s security and stability. An important part of that is the approach to the ongoing migration crisis. “In Europe we would like to focus our efforts on finding a way to reallocate migrants between the countries, in line with solidarity,” Pavlova said.

Last but not least Bulgaria wants to keep the focus on the digital economy and digital skills. “The current presidency is held by Estonia, a very digitalized country where the eGovernment operates well,” she said. “We want to adopt the cyber security, work on ePrivcacy and free flow of data. We need to make a reform of the educational system in the country. This is a very important part of our agenda.”

The minister also highlighted the current motto of the presidency – “United We Stand Strong.”

“We believe this is a valid message to Europe, for the wealth of the Balkans, as well as for our country,” she said.  

Story by Asya Minkova

Photos by Bojan Mircheski

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