SOFIA – Bulgaria inaugurated on Monday its first semestral European Union’s Council presidency, currently focused on the United Kingdom Brexit negotiation and the overall effects of the European Union’s immigration crisis.
According to a Bulgarian EU Council presidential statement its priorities will be driven by the motto: “United we stand strong,” which also happens to be the motto on Bulgaria’s national coat of arms, the EU’s poorest nation with a population of 7.1 million, and a very ambitious agenda from here until June 2018.
The current Bulgarian government is a coalition between the GERB conservative party and the ultranationalist “Patriotic Front” which, according to a Tweet statement, aspires “to work for a stronger, safer, more inclusive and digitally skilled EU in the interest of every citizen.”
It aims to do so with an eye focused on four key areas: “future of Europe and young people, Western Balkans, security and stability and digital economy.”
Among the nearly 300 meetings scheduled until July, the Bulgarian presidency highlights a special summit to be held on May 17-18 among the EU leadership and the six Balkan countries that remain outside the EU structure.
Regarding the United Kingdom’s Brexit negotiations, the Bulgarian presidency has stated it wishes to coordinate the negotiations from a “neutral” position.
Bulgaria is also considered as the most corrupt country in the EU so it also hopes to improve its current EU’s perception and image.
Bulgaria has also stated its intention of joining the Schengen group, as it shares a 260 km-long stretch of border with Turkey.
The EU-Turkish relationship has ostentatiously worsened in the past few years after hundreds of thousands of alleged refugees from African and Middle-Eastern war-torn regions arrived en-masse to EU shores in 2015 and 2016.
How to manage the legal implications of the EU’s immigrant influx, which is unwarranted and undesired by some EU countries, will be another of the Bulgarian EU Council presidency’s top priorities as it also looks into ways of improving the Union’s relations with Turkey.
The next July-December 2018 rotating semestral EU Council presidency will be presided by Austria.