Weakness of the common currency is a monetary phenomenon

Bulgarian experts and economists believe that the single currency was the victim of speculative attacks and its weakness during the first half of the year should be assessed as a momentary phenomenon. According to Lachezar Bogdanov from “Industry Watch”, 11Available at: www.iwatchbulgaria.com (last access: 30 July 2010). the instability of the Euro is a negative trend that should be tackled in time by the European Central Bank and the governments of the Eurozone. The rescue package for Greece provoked an intense debate among experts and financial observers in Bulgaria. Some independent experts have assessed the package as pouring money into a bankrupt economy that would further weaken the Euro, others stressed the fact that the plan has the potential of providing a long-term remedy in case Greece will be ready to apply the envisaged drastic financial measures.22Available at: http://www.segabg.com/online/new/articlenew.asp?issueid=5795&sectionId=4&id=0000701 (last access: 30 July 2010). For the experts of Industry Watch, the Greek crisis uncovered public finance problems in Europe and has the potential to deteriorate Bulgaria’s fiscal position rapidly.

The idea of “a strong coordination of economic policies in Europe” is mainly discussed by Bulgarian policy makers in the framework of their meetings with officials from other member states or EU institutions. During his visit to the European Parliament, former Prime Minister and leader of the parliamentary group of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Sergey Stanishev expressed the view that the Europe 2020 Strategy should be much more ambitious. According to the leader of the Bulgarian Socialists, the EU should take much more courageous steps, such as raising the requirements for convergence of the national economies and economic policies of member states. Other measures should include the introduction of fees for financial transactions, allowing all citizens access to new information and communication technologies and the creation of “green jobs”.33Available at: www.focus-news.net (last access: 30 July 2010).

Bulgaria still lacks a serious debate on the main priorities addressed in the Europe 2020 Strategy. In an attempt to overcome these deficiencies, a team of Bulgarian NGOs have tried to urge public discussions around the forum “Europe 2020 – The Civic Vision” held in Sofia on 29 and 30 January 2010. Recommendations from the civil society sector pointed out a list of needed further steps in strengthening the present social cohesion, the reform of the European employment policy, and the refocus of the solidarity policies towards concentrated investments in fields with growth potential.44Available at: http://parliament.europe.bg/en/?id=26996&category=371 (last access: 30 July 2010).

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister Nikolay Mladenov, Bulgaria has two priority areas in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy – education and innovation.55Available at: http://www.dnevnik.bg/evropa/novini_ot_es/2010/06/17/918748_nikolai_mladenov_obrazovanieto_i_inovaciite_sa/?ref=rss (last access: 30 July 2010). Bulgarian officials fear the country will not be ready to fulfil the fifth objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy on poverty reduction. Although the country supports the idea that economic growth and employment are important objectives in themselves, the target set in the Strategy for reducing the number of people living below the poverty line by 25 percent in 2020 is not a realistic one for Bulgaria.66Available at: http://www.mfa.government.bg/bg/news/view/29867 (last access: 30 July 2010).

The reports focus on a reporting period from December 2009 until May 2010. This survey was conducted on the basis of a questionnaire that has been elaborated in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were delivered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives significant funding from the Otto Wolff-Foundation, Cologne, in the framework of the ‘Dialog Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and financial support from the European Commission. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.