ITALIAN INVESTORS TRUST BULGARIA
H.E. Gian Battista Campagnola, Ambassador of Italy in Bulgaria, to the BANKER weeklyYour Excellency, during its Presidency of the Council of the European Union Italy sets as its number one priority the establishment of a constitution for Europe. Your country insists that the majority principle should be underlying and that the common European issues should be decided in future without the right of a veto. This would mean that the votes of smaller member-countries of the EU would weigh as much as those of the big ones. What are Italy's reasons for insisting to introduce that principle in the future constitution?- Indeed, one of the main priorities of Italy's Presidency is to hold an Intergovernmental Conference, called upon to approve the Draft Constitutional Treaty. The first part of that goal was achieved on October 4 when the conference opened in Rome. The meetings held so far confirmed there was broad consensus concerning most of the proposals, made by the European Convention. However, differences remain regarding reservations of some member states. Italy's Presidency shares the opinion that it is extremely important to discuss the draft in its integrity, with willingness to achieve strengthening of institutions and maintaining the balance between them. One of the most important items in the draft is based on expanding the application of the majority prinicples when voting. In unified Europe this principle will allow legislative processes to be more efficient, especially in certain sectors. Do you think that the forthcoming unprecedented enlargement of the EU could result in a disbalance of European economy, manifested in crises and financial shocks?- In the last few years European economy is developing in a rate which is considerably lower than its potential. Therefore, our strategic goal, underlying in the programme of Italy's Presidency is to achieve modernization, dynamism and integration of Europe's economy. The road to that goal passes through the strengthening of infrastructures in enlarged Europe and the development of competitiveness, with a strong accent on research activities and new technologies, on small and medium-sized enterprises, and finding alternative sources for financing that won't be a burden to the national and European budgets. In view of the forthcoming enlargement of the EU and the willingness for the quickest possible integration between the present and future members, the implementation of projects, connected with transeuropean transport corridors, has become imperative. This directly concerns Bulgaria, as it is an interested side regarding transport corridors V and VIII. The EU enlargement is our historical task and its realization won't be easy, but it's an extremely important challenge. Joint efforts for overcoming eventual differences are necessary in order to avoid economic shocks. In that respect, the efforts of both candidate countries and member states are equally important. This is proved by the scope of the pre-accession strategy, approved by the EU and directed to evaluation of the positive results achieved by them in conditions of economic transition, and more specifically regarding the Copenhagen criteria. Quite naturally, this process of rapprochement will continue after the new members join the EU. Do you believe that Bulgaria will manage to close by the end of 2004 all chapters of its pre-accession negotiations with the European Union?- The presidency conclusions of the Copenhagen and Thessaloniki European Councils confirmed the EU's commitments regarding the term for completion of Bulgaria's pre-accession negotiations - the year 2004. The way in which these negotations are developing, the huge efforts of Bulgarian authorities, and the positive appraisal of European partners are indicative of Bulgaria's resolution and its ability to observe the undertaken commitments. This is a clear signal that the term can be kept. In that respect we can also note the recently reached temporary closure of one of the most difficult negotiation chapters - legislation and internal order. Can we expect Italian investments in Bulgaria to increase by the year 2007?- Bilateral relations have never been so splendid. We are extremely pleased with our role of a number one trade partner to Bulgaria and number one investor in your country. The Italian Government confimed its willingness to keep this leading position in the future by making everything possible to make things easire for Italian entrepreneurs. The law of the market demands to invest where there is trust. Italain authorities have many times stressed on our entrepreneurs' confidence in Bulgaria. This is also confirmed by the excellent state and dynamic relations in the political, social, and cultural sphere. They could only deepen in the future. Is Bulgaria lagging behind in its preparations for joining the EU? In what directions should pre-accession processes in Bulgaria speed up?- I have been in Bulgaria since just a few months. Yet, due to my intensive relations, I have the feeling that I've spent a much longer time in that wonderful country. From the privileged position of an observer which I am honoured to occupy, I would like to point out Bulgaria's strongest points, on which it should continue to build and develop its zeal for the future. I would like to praise the conviction and the broad unanimity on the priorities, to which Bulgaria has always stuck, even in the most difficult moments of its political, economic and social transition, for the country's successful integration into the Euroatlantic structures. I have already said that by its noteworthy positive results in that respect Bulgaria is a wonderful example to be followed by other countries which take on the same road.