Bulgaria Said to Fare Poorly No Matter Where EU Heads for

Bulgaria in EU | September 3, 2012, Monday // 07:58|  views

A file photo shows a giant clock counting down the last minutes to Bulgaria's accession to the European Union, on January 1, 2007, at a ceremony in downtown Sofia. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

There are three plausible solutions to the self-inflicted mess of the euro crisis, which will require a significant new level of fiscal and potentially political union, but Bulgaria will always be the loser, local commentators say.

German Chancel Angela Merkel recently called for an EU 'convention' to draw up a new treaty for closer European political unification to help overcome the bloc's sovereign debt crisis.

"This scenario will have the gravest consequences for Bulgaria. The country will be pushed back to where it was before its EU accession in 2007, keeping company with other poor and indebted member states," Berlin-based Kapka Todorova wrote in 24 Hours daily.

This is however the scenario, least likely to unfold, the journalist comments. As in many matters German enthusiasm is not enough in itself to win the day and new treaties had proved hard sells even before the euro crisis.

The second proposal for restructuring most often heard is for the creation of two euros — a southern euro and a northern one.

The former would be immediately devalued against the latter, restoring southern competitiveness, reducing moral hazard, and also reducing the need for massive cross-border monetary transfers.

"Since Bulgaria is not part of the eurozone, it will be silently pushed into the corner, together with Romania and Hungary, the bad pupils. Poland and the Czech Republic will most probably be wooed by the European northern countries, since they are their economic partners and external borders," the journalist comments.

According to her the most realistic and reasonable is the third possible solution, which would oblige all member states to stick to the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties.

The architects of the 1992 Maastricht treaty, who included Jacques Delors, then European Commission president, and Helmut Kohl, then German chancellor, always wanted political union to accompany the monetary union that the treaty envisaged.

But Maastricht, like many edifices, did not end up quite as the architects had wanted. There were rules on budget deficits that implicitly reached into the political decision-making of the member states. But they were not taken seriously, and swiftly broken without censure.

The same holds true for the EU's Lisbon treaty, which crept into force only because 26 of the 27 member states avoided putting it to a vote, and the 27th, Ireland, allowed itself a second vote after the first went the wrong way.

This scenario will be the least painful for Bulgaria, but only up to a certain point in time, according to Todorova.

"Bulgarian politicians love to brag about the country's low budget deficit and debt, but keep mum on the huge debts between companies and catastrophic lack of competitiveness."

"With such problems on our hands, Bulgaria will fare poorly whatever way the EU heads for. I would not be surprised if one day the EU decides to just get rid of us," the journalist concludes.

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Tags: Lisbon, treaty, Germany, EU, euro zone, European Union, Bulgaria, Maastrich


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