EC NOTES PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF EU ECONOMIC CRITERIA
Bulgaria has achieved considerable progress in the implementation of the main EU economic criteria from Copenhagen - a functioning market economy and ability to manage with the risk of competitive pressure on the European market. That was announced by Dimitris Kourkoulas, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission at a roundtable on Bulgaria's progress in the preparations for EU membership. In the first report of the EC in 1997 it was noted that Bulgaria did not have a functioning market economy. Now, however, the country is close to fulfilling this criterion, Mr. Kourkoulas said.The discussion, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Economic Policies Institute, was held on June 18, a few days before the EU Summit in the Spanish town of Sevilla.During the roundtable the Director of the European Integration and International Programmes Department of the Agency for Economic Analyses and Forecasts Marinela Petrova presented the results of a research according which there is a functioning market economy in Bulgaria. The conlcusion was based on the achieved macroeconomic stability after the introduction of the currency board arrangement and the reported GDP over the last two years.According to Lena Roussenova, Chief Economist of the European Institute in Sofia, the bank system in the country faces no risks, but the amount of the credits for the private sector (which accounts for 15.7% of the GDP) is still far behind European standards.Representatives of the non-government sector who took part in the discussions pointed once more to the necessity of quickly reforming the legal system and the establishment of a capital market in order to acknowledge Bulgaria as a functioning market economy.Meanwhile, the Head of the Transport Policies Department at the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications Dimitar Zoev announced to the roundtabel participants that in the beginning of August a contract would be signed with the company, to be building a second bridge on the Danube at Vidin-Calafat.