Reformulation of the relationship between citizens and political elites needed

1. How does the future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’ look like?

 

The famous ref­er­ence to the Chi­nese hiero­glyphs depict­ing the term “cri­sis” by the notion of “oppor­tu­ni­ty”, can describe very well the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the EU after the Irish ‘No’. The insti­tu­tion­al cri­sis after the Irish ref­er­en­dum should be inter­pret­ed not only as a dan­ger, but also as an oppor­tu­ni­ty. What the three con­sec­u­tive ref­er­en­da (France, Nether­lands, Ire­land) showed us, is that there is a notice­able lack of ade­quate com­mu­ni­ca­tion between polit­i­cal elites and cit­i­zens about the actu­al and future pri­or­i­ties in the devel­op­ment of the Union. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty both for the polit­i­cal elites and the cit­i­zens of the mem­ber states to refor­mu­late their rela­tions and to start think­ing about the “EU project” not only as an elite-dri­ven project but also as some­thing that could be the prod­uct of a com­mon effort. In this respect, the deci­sions of the Euro­pean Coun­cil in Decem­ber 2008 can be viewed as an attempt aimed at improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and at lis­ten­ing to the voic­es of cit­i­zens. The com­mon agree­ment reached at this meet­ing con­cern­ing issues such as tax­a­tion, secu­ri­ty and defence, the right to life, edu­ca­tion and fam­i­ly, can be tak­en as an exam­ple of the will­ing­ness of EU lead­ers to lis­ten to the demands of the (Irish) cit­i­zens. With­out doubt, it is regret­ful that the Dis­cus­sion about the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Treaty and the Lis­bon Treaty did not receive broad pub­lic sup­port in 2003 and 2004 before the ref­er­en­da took place. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion looks more sat­is­fac­to­ry. It was a mis­take that the dis­cus­sion before the start of the rat­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures was focused main­ly on “high lev­el pol­i­tics” and more atten­tion was paid to such issues as the com­po­si­tion of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the redis­tri­b­u­tion of votes with­in the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union and the appoint­ment of a High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Com­mon For­eign and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy rather than on prob­lems of every­day life such as secu­ri­ty, health care and edu­ca­tion. Dur­ing the rat­i­fi­ca­tion dis­cus­sions, these ques­tions over­shad­owed the insti­tu­tion­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of the pro­posed treaties, a fact that indi­cates their sig­nif­i­cant impor­tance for the Euro­pean citizens.

In Bul­gar­ia, the sit­u­a­tion with the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty was quite dif­fer­ent. There was no pub­lic dis­cus­sion and it did not receive sig­nif­i­cant media cov­er­age. Even the polit­i­cal atten­tion to this treaty was min­i­mal with some spo­radic reac­tions of Bul­gar­i­an MEPs. Thus, the treaty was pre­sent­ed as some­thing with lit­tle impact on Bul­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and lim­it­ed influ­ence on the every­day life of Bul­gar­i­an cit­i­zens. Bul­gar­ia was one of the first EU mem­ber states that rat­i­fied the treaty by par­lia­men­tary vote with­out long debates. In this con­junc­ture, it was nat­ur­al to expect that the deci­sion of the Euro­pean Coun­cil on the Lis­bon Treaty would not receive any media cov­er­age and would not be dis­cussed pub­licly. The only issue that was giv­en atten­tion by the media were the expressed posi­tions of the lead­ers of France and Lux­em­burg, Nico­las Sarkozy and Jean-Claude Junker, about the impos­si­bil­i­ty for the EU to con­tin­ue its enlarge­ment pol­i­cy with­out the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty. Thus, the Bul­gar­i­an Min­is­ter of Euro­pean Affairs, Ger­gana Gran­charo­va, stat­ed in her open speech at the cer­e­mo­ny for the pre­sen­ta­tion of the pri­or­i­ties of the French Pres­i­den­cy in Sofia that the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty has to con­tin­ue because “it is high­ly impor­tant for us, as an exter­nal bor­der of the EU and as a Balkan coun­try, that Euro­pean enlarge­ment continues”[1].

The upcom­ing Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (EP) elec­tions in June 2009 unex­pect­ed­ly turned out to be an impor­tant part of the Bul­gar­i­an polit­i­cal dis­course. The rea­son is not the EP elec­tion itself, but the fact that reg­u­lar par­lia­men­tary elec­tions will be held at the same time or one to two months lat­er. As a result, Bul­gar­i­an politi­cians are inten­sive­ly involved in dis­cus­sions about the exact date of the nation­al elec­tions. One of the gov­ern­ing par­ties NDSV (Nation­al Move­ment for Sta­bil­i­ty and Progress, mem­ber of Euro­pean Lib­er­al Demo­c­rat and Reform Par­ty, ELDR) pro­posed a for­mu­la named “2‑in‑1” imply­ing that both the EP and the nation­al par­lia­men­tary elec­tions are to be held simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. This posi­tion was sup­port­ed by the Bul­gar­i­an Pres­i­dent and by some small right-wing par­ties, mem­bers of the Euro­pean People’s Par­ty (EPP), which are afraid that they lack the nec­es­sary orga­ni­za­tion­al capa­bil­i­ties for two elec­toral cam­paigns one after the oth­er. Bul­gar­i­an polit­i­cal par­ties stand­ing in favour of the “2‑in‑1” option, wor­ry that their expect­ed low results at the EP elec­tions will have a strong neg­a­tive impact on vot­ers’ behav­ior and sup­port and that this will turn into a cat­a­stro­phe dur­ing the gen­er­al elec­tions lat­er. In this case, if the “2‑in‑1” pro­pos­al is accept­ed, the EP elec­tions will be com­plete­ly over­shad­owed by the nation­al ones since the pub­lic and media inter­est will con­cen­trate over­whelm­ing­ly on the lat­ter. The par­ties which firm­ly sup­port the Euro­pean and nation­al elec­tions to be held sep­a­rate­ly with­in the time frame of one to two months are the gov­ern­ing par­ties the Bul­gar­i­an Social­ist Par­ty, BSP (mem­ber of the Par­ty of Euro­pean Social­ists, PES) and the Turk­ish Move­ment for Rights and Free­doms, DPS (mem­ber of the Euro­pean Lib­er­al Demo­c­rat and Reform Par­ty, ELDR), which can rely on their strong and well organ­ised elec­toral cores. These par­ties, famous for the sol­id and unques­tioned sup­port of their vot­ers, are con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties to mobi­lize them for two con­sec­u­tive cam­paigns, thus achiev­ing bet­ter elec­toral results. If this hap­pens, there is a chance the Bul­gar­i­an Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in 2009 will focus not only on the cur­rent domes­tic polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, but also on the more and more dis­putable rela­tions between Bul­gar­ia and the EU.

Regard­ing the present-day polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Bul­gar­ia, it is not sur­pris­ing that the dis­cus­sion about the EP elec­tions is viewed in the per­spec­tive of their con­se­quences for the results of the nation­al par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Cit­i­zens’ trust in the gov­ern­ing coali­tion is very low and there are indi­ca­tions for a grow­ing pop­u­lar dis­con­tent. As a result, one more time after the extra­or­di­nary 2007 Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions held in Bul­gar­ia and Roma­nia, the EP elec­tions in 2009 are per­ceived as sec­ond-order, “test-elec­tions”, with­out par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance and meaning.

How­ev­er, the Bul­gar­i­an media demon­strates some spe­cif­ic inter­est in the Euro­pean elec­tions, most of all, per­son­al­i­ty-wise. There are spec­u­la­tions about future Bul­gar­i­an MEPs, indi­cat­ing that most of the cur­rent MEPs will be can­di­dates for the next EP. Accord­ing to some media sources, it is pos­si­ble that the cur­rent Bul­gar­i­an Com­mis­sion­er, Megle­na Kune­va, heads the elec­toral list of the Nation­al Move­ment for Sta­bil­i­ty and Progress (NDSV), hav­ing the sup­port of the cur­rent Bul­gar­i­an Min­is­ter of Euro­pean Affairs Ger­gana Gran­charo­va. Anoth­er issue relat­ed to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions, which received media atten­tion, is the salary of Bul­gar­i­an MEPs – some­thing that is under­stand­able giv­en the cur­rent eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion in Bul­gar­ia. The most recent news in Bul­gar­ia con­nect­ed with the upcom­ing EP elec­tions touch upon an ongo­ing scan­dal around the foun­da­tion of the pan-Euro­pean Euroscep­tic par­ty “Lib­er­tas” where, sur­pris­ing­ly, the inde­pen­dent Bul­gar­i­an mem­ber of the par­lia­ment, Min­cho Hris­tov, is involved as a found­ing mem­ber. In con­clu­sion, the expec­ta­tions for the 2009 EP elec­tions in Bul­gar­ia are that these will be over­shad­owed again by explic­it­ly domes­tic issues and prob­lems with­out pay­ing much atten­tion to the EU prob­lem­at­ic. The turnout results that can be expect­ed are more or less sim­i­lar to the ones of the 2007 EP elec­tions – around 29 percent.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is per­ceived by most Bul­gar­i­an cit­i­zens as an insti­tu­tion of high impor­tance, espe­cial­ly regard­ing EU fund­ing for Bul­gar­i­an agri­cul­ture and infra­struc­tur­al devel­op­ment. How­ev­er, the for­ma­tion of the new Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in 2009 is not a theme of the cur­rent Bul­gar­i­an pub­lic dis­course. The only – not yet offi­cial­lised – can­di­date for a future Bul­gar­i­an Com­mis­sion­er is the incum­bent Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er for Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion, Megle­na Kune­va. She is one of the few Bul­gar­i­an politi­cians who receive a high lev­el of cit­i­zens’ sup­port in the coun­try. In addi­tion to her domes­tic pop­u­lar­i­ty, she was elect­ed by the on-line jour­nal “Euro­pean agen­da” as Com­mis­sion­er of the year in 2008. That is why her can­di­da­ture will not be a sur­prise for any­one in Bul­gar­ia. Regard­ing the nom­i­na­tion of a future Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Bul­gar­i­an offi­cial posi­tion is not yet expressed.

As far as the posi­tion of the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Com­mon For­eign and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy is con­cerned, both its insti­tu­tion­al and per­son­al aspects are not part of the Bul­gar­i­an pub­lic dis­course. Now and again, lead­ing Bul­gar­i­an politi­cians declare sup­port for the devel­op­ment of a strong com­mon EU for­eign pol­i­cy, but this posi­tion has not been sub­stan­ti­at­ed by any con­crete engage­ments and steps. The words of Ivai­lo Kalfin, Bul­gar­i­an Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, in a recent inter­view for the Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Tele­vi­sion, could be inter­pret­ed along those lines: “Koso­vo and Geor­gia are exam­ples that the Euro­pean for­eign pol­i­cy, although some­times achieved with dif­fi­cul­ty, is effec­tive. Bul­gar­ia has an inter­est in a strong Europe.”[2]

2. Transatlantic relations renewed after President Bush: top priorities

 

Intensified cooperation for approaching common challenges

Approach­es and top pri­or­i­ties for a re-vital­iza­tion of the transat­lantic and EU-US rela­tions seem to dif­fer depend­ing on whose per­spec­tive we will con­sid­er. In the US per­spec­tive, Europe is need­ed as a sup­port­er for recov­er­ing glob­al US lead­er­ship based on the pow­er of exam­ple and inspi­ra­tion for all peo­ple in the world.

It will be up to Europe’s matu­ri­ty to acknowl­edge either a posi­tion of a junior part­ner of the US in a glob­al alliance for glob­al good, or try to sur­vive on its own quite inse­cure domes­tic and inter­na­tion­al agen­da, while at the same time being squeezed by an eman­ci­pat­ed Rus­sia and a frus­trat­ed Turkey.

It has to be crys­tal clear, that any debate about the rede­f­i­n­i­tion of transat­lantic rela­tions can­not evade the uneasy ques­tions relat­ed to Rus­sia and Turkey. If the US and the EU con­tin­ue to approach Rus­sia sep­a­rate­ly, and if with­in the EU some mem­ber states still pre­fer deal­ing with Rus­sia on a bilat­er­al basis, then it will be irrel­e­vant to speak about any­thing transat­lantic. If Turkey con­tin­ues to hang in the abyss with no clear geopo­lit­i­cal future, if the EU stays inhib­it­ed with its rel­a­tive­ly small prob­lems, then no future for a transat­lantic uni­ty could ever be foreseen.

The first and most need­ed thing to do is inten­si­fy­ing polit­i­cal con­tacts between the US and the EU in search of fram­ing com­mon dis­cours­es. The US and the EU have quite dif­fer­ent start­ing points and frames of ref­er­ence, but they both have a com­mon chal­lenge – Rus­sia. Whether each will sneak and deal with Rus­sia at sole dis­cre­tion with­out com­pro­mis­ing with the oth­er will be the key to the ‘transat­lantic stand­ing togeth­er’ or ‘self-help’ approach.

“Transat­lanti­cism” has been bit­ter­ly chal­lenged over the last eight years of the out­go­ing Bush admin­is­tra­tion. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton will have to live through hard times to restore Europe’s transat­lantic enthu­si­asm, which has con­sid­er­ably degrad­ed not only because of US poli­cies, but also because of the increas­ing reluc­tance of some Euro­pean coun­tries to fol­low the Amer­i­can lead. So, one of the first cor­ner­stones of a re-ani­mat­ed transat­lantic link would be com­pro­mis­ing on the issue of lead­er­ship – lead­er­ship-in-what, lead­er­ship-when, lead­er­ship-how, lead­er­ship-with-whom. On issues relat­ed to secu­ri­ty and geopol­i­tics, the EU does not have much choice or room for manoeu­vre but to accept the US lead­er­ship. On oth­er issues relat­ed to glob­al gov­er­nance, poli­cies towards less-devel­oped coun­ties, meet­ing glob­al chal­lenges, a dual or joint lead­er­ship between the EU and the US, is much more feasible.

Cer­tain­ly, the most dif­fi­cult focal points for find­ing com­pro­mis­es between the US and the EU will be Rus­sia, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.

On the whole, Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries are con­cerned that with the new Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent, they might lose the priv­i­leged rela­tions they main­tained with the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. The pre­vail­ing opin­ion in Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries is that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma will con­cen­trate on restor­ing rela­tions with West­ern Europe that crit­i­cal­ly suf­fered under the neo­con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can estab­lish­ment. Although some Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries were reli­able allies to the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, they might be pushed aside now. The fact that the pro-Amer­i­can Czech Repub­lic took the rotat­ing pres­i­den­cy of the EU at the time of Obama’s inau­gu­ra­tion is unlike­ly to make any change. It is expect­ed that the EU-US agen­da will be dom­i­nat­ed entire­ly by the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis and eco­nom­ic reform efforts. Thus, big West Euro­pean economies like Great Britain, Ger­many and France, will be pri­or­i­tized as part­ners at the expense of Cen­tral Euro­pean EU members.

The Czech Pres­i­den­cy seems com­mit­ted to bring­ing new impe­tus into the transat­lantic agen­da since the first EU-US sum­mit with the new US Pres­i­dent will be held dur­ing its term. It remains to be seen whether Czech enthu­si­asm will mate­ri­al­ize in more con­crete results.

As far as Rus­sia is con­cerned, the new US admin­is­tra­tion will prob­a­bly fol­low Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkosy’s milder tone instead of the more hard-line posi­tion of Poland and the Czech Repub­lic. Here again, the high­light is on the dis­uni­ty in the EU itself with regard to Rus­sia, even beyond the transat­lantic dis­course. And when the transat­lantic dis­course is at stake, we wit­ness at least three visions towards Rus­sia – the Amer­i­can, the West Euro­pean and the Cen­tral Euro­pean (‘new’ Europe, most elo­quent­ly rep­re­sent­ed by Poland and the Czech Repub­lic). Whether there will ever be a cross­ing point or merg­er of these visions, is a mat­ter of strate­gic impor­tance for the future of the transat­lantic community.

The oth­er crit­i­cal point of diver­gence – Turkey – will be the next test-case for the transat­lantic future. Unlike Cen­tral Europe, anti-Amer­i­can­ism in Turkey grew stronger, just as Euro-scep­ti­cism. Both the US and the EU dam­aged, or at least aggra­vat­ed, their rela­tions with Turkey. How they will get out of this sit­u­a­tion is also a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ty for transat­lantic partners.

Perspectives from Bulgaria

The Bul­gar­i­an pub­lic is ful­ly aware that the coun­try has no ‘spe­cial place’ on the US strate­gic agen­da. Where the coun­try could pos­si­bly fit in, besides NATO, is with­in a gen­er­al revi­tal­iza­tion of the EU-US transat­lantic rela­tion­ship, which gives Bul­gar­ia the only oppor­tu­ni­ty for direct access to dis­cussing or express­ing posi­tions on such strate­gic issues as the future of inter­na­tion­al pres­ence in Iraq and Afghanistan, nego­ti­a­tions with Iran or ener­gy security.

Bul­gar­ia is espe­cial­ly inter­est­ed in how the process of inte­gra­tion of the West­ern Balka­ns will con­tin­ue and what type of engage­ment the transat­lantic part­ners (US and EU) will main­tain in the Black Sea region.

On bilat­er­al lev­el, the recent US-Bul­gar­i­an agen­da is framed by the out­stand­ing issue of whether and when Bul­gar­ia will enter the US visa-free trav­el pro­gramme, and oth­er more tech­ni­cal issues such as the entry into force of the bilat­er­al agree­ment for avoid­ing dou­ble tax­a­tion. On more crit­i­cal issues, Bul­gar­ia is like­ly to con­tin­ue keep­ing a low pro­file in transat­lantic rela­tions. Unlike the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ments in Poland and the Czech Repub­lic, gov­ern­ments in Bul­gar­ia in recent years tried to avoid and attempt­ed to stay away from any bilat­er­al approach to the US that might inflict an increase in the reg­u­lar rate of dis­ap­proval the EU main­tains towards Bul­gar­ia. Even the sign­ing of the agree­ment for joint mil­i­tary facil­i­ties between Bul­gar­ia and the US is rather an excep­tion to con­firm that rule.

Anoth­er rea­son for the gov­ern­ing cir­cles in Bul­gar­ia to refrain from a direct and straight­for­ward engage­ment with the US is the ‘con­ven­tion­al wis­dom’ or instru­men­tal com­mon sense deriv­ing from a psy­cho­log­i­cal com­plex from the past that ‘there is noth­ing good in annoy­ing Rus­sia’. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this type of servi­tude men­tal­i­ty and also alleged busi­ness links with Rus­sia ground­ed the argu­ment that Bul­gar­ia may turn into Russia’s “Tro­jan horse” in the EU.

Polit­i­cal cir­cles in Bul­gar­ia seem quite unlike­ly to go for any direct transat­lantic engage­ment. What is most like­ly, is that Bul­gar­ia will leave West Euro­pean EU mem­ber states and the US to bridge the transat­lantic gap on their own. Bul­gar­ia will sure­ly not be an ardent advo­cate of transat­lantic relations.

If we com­pare the trends of approval for US lead­er­ship in glob­al affairs, the Bul­gar­i­an pub­lic opin­ion stands some­where in the mid­dle, com­pared to some oth­er EU coun­tries. This main­tains a cer­tain lev­el of transat­lantic vigour in the coun­try, but this enthu­si­asm is not impres­sive at all. It exists only with­in small expert com­mu­ni­ties, rather than among the gen­er­al pub­lic. The transat­lantic iner­tia and the pro-Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment in Bul­gar­i­an soci­ety from the 1990s are on the down­side. Opin­ion sur­veys in 2007 in Bul­gar­ia showed a some­what declin­ing trend of approval of US leadership.

3. Financial crisis and challenges of global governance: the EU response

 

Strong focus on Eurozone leaves new members worried

Many experts focused their atten­tion on the reper­cus­sions of Brus­sels’ deci­sion to block EU funds allo­cat­ed to Bul­gar­ia on the country’s econ­o­my. It had lost 220 mil­lion Euros in pre-acces­sion funds, where­as anoth­er 500 mil­lion Euros were frozen. They point­ed out that, unfor­tu­nate­ly for Bul­gar­ia, those coin­cid­ed with the unfold­ing glob­al finan­cial cri­sis. Thus, the cash cut-off could nev­er be com­pen­sat­ed, espe­cial­ly in the con­text of the cri­sis-rid­den world economy,[3] which aggra­vates the impact of all of these devel­op­ments. Espe­cial­ly in such a dif­fi­cult peri­od, when the most seri­ous sec­tors in Bul­gar­ia were affect­ed and many peo­ple were los­ing their jobs. Oth­er Bul­gar­i­ans were being thrown out of com­pa­nies across Europe – for exam­ple in Spain or the UK, and had to return to Bulgaria.[4] How­ev­er, the pos­si­bil­i­ties to cre­ate new jobs were reduced by the firm line of Brussels.

In the observed peri­od, the Euro­pean search for answers to the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis was increas­ing­ly mov­ing into the focus of media atten­tion. A watch­ful eye was kept on the quest of the French Pres­i­den­cy for con­crete deci­sions and mea­sures to cope with the cri­sis, espe­cial­ly on the sum­mit in mid-Octo­ber in Brus­sels. It took place imme­di­ate­ly after the meet­ing of the Eurogroup with the objec­tive to extend the heal­ing plan, drawn by the 15 Euro­zone coun­tries for the recov­ery of con­fi­dence in the bank­ing sys­tem, to all mem­ber states. It implies the re-cap­i­tal­iza­tion of finan­cial insti­tu­tions under dif­fi­cul­ties, state guar­an­tees for inter-bank­ing loans and improved deposit pro­tec­tion schemes. Bul­gar­i­an jour­nal­ists also accen­tu­at­ed the com­plaints of the new EU mem­ber states that the plan did not offer any aide to coun­tries out­side the Eurozone.[5] New mem­ber states advo­cat­ed Euro­pean sol­i­dar­i­ty because they rely huge­ly on for­eign cap­i­tal. They expressed their wor­ries that the 15 Euro­zone mem­bers will apply the doc­trine of com­pe­ti­tion and soft­en up the Sta­bil­i­ty and Growth Pact for their ben­e­fit alone.

Bul­gar­i­an offi­cials high­light­ed that, in accord with the French efforts, the coun­try com­mit­ted itself to the need of dis­cussing and agree­ing on Euro­pean lev­el coor­di­nat­ed activ­i­ties to main­tain the sta­bil­i­ty of the finan­cial sys­tem and to lim­it the mis­trust among eco­nom­ic agents in Europe. Tsve­tan Manchev, Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Bank’s Deputy Gov­er­nor, took the view that even a prospec­tive dis­cus­sion of the flex­i­bil­i­ty of the cur­rent Sta­bil­i­ty and Growth Pact rules will seri­ous­ly dam­age the frag­ile confidence.[6] He also out­lined the impor­tance of the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Euro­pean lead­ers in the inter­na­tion­al dia­logue about the future of the glob­al finan­cial architecture.[7]

Are Brus­sels’ deci­sions ade­quate to the sit­u­a­tion? Are the anti-cri­sis mea­sures Europe is under­tak­ing suf­fi­cient for cop­ing with the cri­sis? To what extent can Euro­pean cit­i­zens rely on their own insti­tu­tions to pro­tect them from the rag­ing finan­cial cri­sis? Which are the most endan­gered, and which are the best-pro­tect­ed coun­tries? Sim­i­lar ques­tions dom­i­nat­ed the Bul­gar­i­an media land­scape. Accord­ing to the experts, Europe is quite unpre­pared for this cri­sis, because there are not many pos­si­bil­i­ties for maneu­ver­ing. The mea­sures could stop the melt­ing down and the col­lapse of the finan­cial sys­tem but they can­not anni­hi­late old mis­takes and prob­lems, relat­ed to the fact that the EU is not yet the most com­pet­i­tive and dynam­ic econ­o­my. With a view to the sit­u­a­tion, besides pro­tect­ing the sys­tem from a cat­a­stro­phe, Euro­peans should also give it the chance to develop.[8]

Anoth­er hot top­ic was con­nect­ed with the prospects of expan­sion of the Euro­zone, in order to pro­tect the coun­tries of “small” cur­ren­cies from the influ­ence of the finan­cial storm. On the one hand, the states, which were oppo­nents of the Euro, began to grav­i­tate toward the adop­tion. On the oth­er hand, because it will be more dif­fi­cult to enter the Euro­zone for coun­tries that wish to do so. Ana­lysts also claimed that thanks to the cri­sis, the suprema­cy of politi­cians over the influ­en­tial per­son­al­i­ties from the finan­cial sphere was resumed because they are the only per­sons that are insti­tu­tion­al­ly entrust­ed to approach the prob­lems. In the Euro­pean con­text, if they pre­fer to go their sep­a­rate ways and to give dif­fer­ent respons­es to the cri­sis, then all will cer­tain­ly sink togeth­er. In such a neg­a­tive sce­nario, the mul­ti­form aspects of the cri­sis could even undo already achieved agree­ments for unity.

 

 

[1] Speech of Bul­gar­i­an Min­is­ter of Euro­pean Affairs Ger­gana Gran­charo­va at the Con­fer­ence pre­sent­ing French Pres­i­den­cy pri­or­i­ties, Sofia, 23 June 2008, avail­able at: www.mfa.bg (last access: 20 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[2] Inter­view of Bul­gar­i­an Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs Ivai­lo Kalfin for the Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Tele­vi­sion (BNT); BNT1; “Den­jat zapoc­h­va” pro­gram (“The Day Starts”), 10 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: www.mfa.bg (last access:20January 2009).
[3] See Radio Bul­gar­ia: Bul­gar­i­an MPs com­ment on can­celled financ­ing from EU funds, 28 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: 6 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[4] See Radio Bul­gar­ia: EC crit­i­cism res­onates strong­ly across Bulgaria’s polit­i­cal divides, 3 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: 6 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[5] See Stan­dart News: A plan to save 15 or 27, 16 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.standartnews.com (last access: 6 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[6] Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Bank: Tsve­tan Manchev: Rule-based ver­sus dis­cre­tionary pol­i­cy respons­es to the recent finan­cial cri­sis, 8 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bnb.bg (last access: 6 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[7] Bul­gar­i­an Nation­al Bank: Tsve­tan Manchev: The finan­cial cri­sis and the ini­tial EU, 25 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bnb.bg (last access: 6 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[8] Radio Bul­gar­ia: The Euro­pean answer to the world finan­cial cri­sis, 4 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bnr.bg (last access: 6 Jan­u­ary 2009).