The slow-pace mechanism of decision-making prevents the European Union from being a frontrunner worldwide
If the European Union has the ambition to be a leading force on the world stage, as written in the Union's strategy papers, the lengthy decision-making process must be changed because sluggishness leads to inefficiency.
The Alliance should be more effective in both preventing and managing crises that occur beyond its borders. This was stated by President Rumen Radev during a discussion organized in Sofia by the Institute of Economics and International Relations and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The conference was dedicated to the future of the European Union.
The head of state pointed out that EU decisions are much more sustainable over time because they are based on democratic mechanisms, consensus, respect for values, but this raises the question of whether this approach is not used by other countries that make speedy decisions and implement them.
"We have strategic players against us who act quickly as sprinters while we act on marathon principles," the president added.
"The platitudes about the end of the European Union are always premature, but it depends on Bulgaria how effectively and fully we take part in the union," Rumen Radev said, adding that the future of the Alliance itself depends on its actions.
According to the President, the positive element of the coronary crisis is that it has reminded Europeans that crises do not pass by the Old Continent and that we need to adopt forward thinking.
"Throughout its history, the European Union has faced enormous challenges, but has found a way to defeat them," he underlined.
In his speech, the President noted that when it comes to economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, especially in Bulgaria, emphasis should be put on a conceptually new level of functioning of the economy, science and public relations.
"Our country must use the funds it expects for modernization and transformation of many areas of socio-economic life in Bulgaria. Clear criteria and approaches are needed, as well as a larger share of investments in human capital, not only in infrastructure," Radev said.
He specified that when the main part of the European funds for BG are distributed according to unclear mechanisms, the economic relations and the market are distorted and the funds reach a small number of companies.
The President also stressed the importance of education and science development in the member states.
"If we do not equalize the educational and scientific infrastructure of East and West, North and South, we will not achieve socio-economic cohesion," he said.
According to Radev, Bulgaria's full integration into the Alliance, enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty, requires our accession to the Schengen area and the euro zone in order to actively participate in all policies and decision-making. However, a full-fledged debate on the benefits and risks has not yet been held in Bulgaria, as well as a clear plan for minimizing the possible negatives of our entry into the euro area and Schengen.
The head of state called upon our country to more actively defend its positions regarding the European Green Pact so that we do not lose competitiveness in the energy sector.
In President’s words, the problem of fragmented European science and industry must be overcome because without integration in defense Europe cannot guarantee its security and without security effective economic recovery is impossible.
In terms of gross domestic product the EU is one of the three important players on the world stage, along with China and the United State, but the Union cannot find its place as a political weight because it is not yet backed up by adequate defense capabilities. Member States should take advantage of the European Defense Fund to establish appropriate platforms and technologies for compatibility and interoperability. The next step is to expand production and strengthen joint defense capabilities and the last phase, which is an exclusively political decision, is to build a solid European defense, Rumen Radev stated.
He also recalled his position at the NATO Summit in London last year that the gap between countries that divides them into manufacturers and buyers of technology must be tackled. This requires industrial cooperation programs in NATO and the European Union.
"We must be all involved in developments with the participation of our military science and industry," the president noted.
When asked about the need for a change in the tax system, the President pointed out that the topic is sensitive and a debate is needed because Bulgaria is the first in the European Union in terms of social inequality and poverty.
"There is no developed country in the world, especially according to the European model, that has a flat tax system like ours. There are several countries in the EU with a flat tax rate, although higher, but all have a non-taxable minimum," he added.
Asked about violations of democratic principles in some EU countries, Radev said that democracy was backsliding in a number of countries due to problems with separation of powers, freedom of speech and corruption. But one shouldn’t remain silent on these issues. Any violation of the law, violation of the Constitution, which is starting to become a rule, leads to the decline of democracy.