Borisov Slams EU Hypocrisies on Schengen, Budget Deficit While Tapping Croatia's Back

Bulgaria in EU | April 27, 2011, Wednesday // 19:30|  views

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov (right) with his Croatian counterpart Jadranka Kosor in Zagreb where he made a number of "a la Borisov" statements. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria will be crying out laud over most EU states' failure to keep their budget deficits within the agreed limit because it is being treated unfairly in its aspirations to join the Schengen Area, according to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

The Bulgarian PM was on an official state visit in Croatia Wednesday where he made an array of intriguing statements "a la Borisov" about the politics of the European Union and the situation in Bulgaria, all of that while tapping Croatia on the back for its upcoming EU accession.

During his joint press conference with Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor, Borisov commented that even though Bulgaria is technically ready to join the Schengen Area, EU states like Germany, France, and the Netherlands, among others, insist on binding its Schengen member with technically irrelevant progress on fighting corruption and organized crime, i.e. to the regular monitoring reports administered by the European Commission.

Bulgaria and Romania were supposed to join the borderless Schengen zone by March 2011 but failed over reported flaws in Bulgaria's border control and political opposition by major EU powers. The two countries' progress in problem areas such as fighting crime and judicial reform has been scrutinized by the EC since their accession in 2007.

According to the Bulgarian PM, a lot can be done in Europe on improving the Schengen procedures but so can be improved state finances where Bulgaria is doing better than most EU members.

"I am in favor of all proposals that will improve the situation of the EU but all EU states must follow the example of the Bulgarian government which is creating a Financial Stability Pact to anchor our budget deficit below 3%. The more they talk about Schengen, the more we are going to talk about the 3% deficit limit," Borisov said, as cited by Focus, referring simultaneously to the 3% maximum deficit set by the EU Stability and Growth Pact that almost all EU states have failed to obey, and to the Financial Stability, a brainchild of the Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Djankov to keep budget deficit low by amending the Constitution, which has not been adopted yet.

One of EU's greatest advantages is that it is founded on rules and principles, Borisov believes, criticizing what he apparently sees as hypocrisy and double standards on part of some Western EU states that slam Bulgaria over Schengen but fail to obey the Union's budgetary restrictions. The Bulgarian PM said that if all EU states had to be re-admitted right now, Croatia, an EU candidate will be found to be meeting the criteria better than some of them.

"What if we demand that those who fail to meet the 3% budget deficit rule adopted in Maastricht? What sanctions are those states supposed to face? What now – everybody accepts it and keeps quiet when a big state doesn't meet the criteria but when a small state fails to do that, we are all bold in our statements? I am in favor of the EU following the rules," Borisov said.

Latest data shows that Bulgaria ended 2010 with a budget deficit of 3.2% of GDP, while is still not within the 3% threshold but, according to Finance Minister Djankov, is better than most EU states, including Germany's 3.3%.

While slamming the double standards in the EU, the Bulgarian Prime Minister made a perplexing statement showing he seems to think that Bulgaria is doing much better-off than Croatia.

"Bulgaria is a very nice place to live. Our debts and deficit are among EU's lowest and we are far ahead of you," Borisov declared in Zagreb, apparently disregarding conventional wisdom that Croatia is more economically developed than Bulgaria, and IMF statistics showing that Croatia's GDP per capita in 2010 was USD 13 720, while Bulgaria's was USD 6 334 .

At the same time, Borisov said that Bulgaria will probably be the first EU member state to ratify Croatia's accession treaty, and that the Western Balkan country must not have any monitoring mechanisms imposed on it after it joins the EU unlike the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) placed on Bulgaria and Romania since their accession in 2007 that Borisov expects to see lifted within two years.

"Some day Europe will have one chief prosecutor, a unified judiciary, a unified police, and this is when the fight against corruption will be the most effective," the Bulgarian PM told journalists in Croatia as cited by Focus.

While saying Croatia should not get a post-accession monitoring mechanism, however, Borisov did point out it had benefits for Bulgaria.

"Until 1990, the judiciary in Bulgaria was subservient to the political regime. My view is that Croatia doesn't need monitoring and if Brussels asks about our opinion we will say it loud and clear. But for Bulgaria the EU monitoring is the only chance for reform in the judiciary. One lives much better with monitoring than in a communist state," the Bulgarian PM thinks.

Borisov's visit in Zagreb came at the invitation of Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor who herself visited Bulgaria in April last year. The Bulgarian delegation includes Minister of Economy and Energy Traicho Traikov and Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov.

During his meetings with Croatian President Ivo Josipovi?, and Parliament Speaker Luka Bebi?, Borisov reaffirmed Bulgaria's support for Croatia's EU bid.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, EU accession, CVM, cooperation and verification mechanism, Schengen Area, Schengen Agreement, Stability and Growth Pact, budget, deficit, Financial Stability Pact, France, Germany, Netherlands, Croatia, Zagreb, Jadranka Kosor, judicial reform, judiciary, judicial system


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