Socialist Leader: Bulgaria Remains Poorest EU Country

Bulgaria in EU | April 15, 2011, Friday // 14:23|  views

Bulgarian Socialist Party chair Sergey Stanishev warned Friday about the dangers behind Bulgaria`s accession to the "Euro-Plus-Pact". Photo by BGNES.

Bulgaria remains the poorest country in the EU, and government's priority must be a catch-up development of the economy and of people's income, according to Socialist leader Sergey Stanishev.

The ex PM and Bulgarian Socialist Party chair spoke in Parliament Friday where the opposition Socialists called for a debate in Parliament on Bulgaria's accession to the Euro-Plus-Pact, a grouping of euro zone countries and prospective euro zone states initiated by France and Germany and approved in March 2011 by the EU Council.

In their words, Bulgaria must come up with a national stance on the matter which could be presented before the EU. According to Stanishev, the Pact in its current form fails to strike a balance between the macroeconomic and social spheres.

"There is a real danger of Bulgaria suffering serious losses from the adoption of the policies stipulated in the Euro-Plus-Pact, to which our country is blindly subscribing. Not to mention the promise of the currently absent Prime Minister that the policy led by GERB would turn Bulgaria into an average EU country in 3 years", Stanishev declared.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, in his turn, refused to hear the declaration of the Socialists read by Stanishev on the "Euro-Plus-Pact". Responding to a question of Stanishev about social stability, Borisov explained that Bulgarians' incomes are on the rise.

Borisov emphasized that Bulgaria is the only state in the EU that has refrained from raising taxes. He went on to explain that the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC), a consultative council of the government, business sector, and syndicates, is discussing problems like inflation, the tax and social security burden and revenues.

Bulgaria's commitment to the Euro-Plus-Pact has come under fierce criticism by the opposition and a number of independent analysts, primarily based on concerns that the poorest country in the EU might be forced to chip in a disproportional amount of funds for euro zone bailout aid, or to raise its taxes which are currently the lowest in the EU.

One of the most outspoken critics, Martin Dimitrov, leader of the rightist Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), opposed Bulgaria's accession to the "Euro-Plus-Pact", pointing out that the country "is becoming a guarantor for an initially loan of EUR 3 B, and later for EUR 6 B, which is 1/6 of the country's GDP. We support the EU and the euro, but Bulgaria is the poorest European country and this is too much to take". In Dimitrov's words, the other serious problem that stems from Bulgaria's accession to the "Euro-Plus-Pact" is the demand of several European countries for harmonizing of the taxes across the EU.

According to Deputy Finance Minister Boryana Pencheva, Bulgaria's obligations within the Pact will be paying EUR 300 M in the first 12 years after it joins the euro zone, in five equal installments.

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Tags: euro-plus-pact, Sergey Stanishev, BSP, UDF, Martin Dimitrov, National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC), Boryana Pencheva


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