Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Membership is coming

Adelina Marini, September 25, 2006

What is the good thing about the report of the European Commission for Bulgaria and Romania? Generally, it keeps the status quo and does not require sharp turns. In other words, reforms must continue so that the minimum set of criteria, which were required many years ago, are achieved and which are estimated to be within our capabilities. Subject of another conversation is the fact that even these criteria proved to be much beyond our strength. What is the bad news in this report? The bad news is that the conclusions in this report still hold us in isolation from the rest of the world and its constantly growing requirements.

On the 21st and 22nd of September there was a conference in Helsinki - "Going Global 2006: The Challenges for Knowledge-Based Economies". Probably, for many this sounds a bit scientific but it’s not. Globalization is real and not from yesterday or the day before. The problem about globalization is that this process developed quicker than foreseen. The most unprepared for this appeared to be two superpowers – the European Union and to some extent the US. The latest stage of globalization was accelerated by the fast development of information and communication technologies as well as by the growth of the big Asian economies. Global economy creates conditions for economic and social development of all nations, regardless of their size, population or stage of development. A principal aspect of this phenomenon is that the dependence of countries one on another, as well as basic supranational actors will continue to grow. Economic growth, structural reforms and prosperity are based on innovations, know-how and research. Companies and corporations will become more and more globalized, they develop competitive innovation environment and attract foreign experts who can handle with new requirements and speed of development.

Why is this bad news for us? The reason is that we haven’t even thought about this aspect of things. Yes, it is true that we implement the Lisbon strategy, not very passionately though, whose main purpose is to make European economy, please note economy and not economies, the most competitive in the world by the year 2010. This not only did not happen but a year ago the European Council estimated that the goal 2010 is impossible to reach and left the strategy without a term. In Bulgaria, though, as usually, we do not see too far ahead and that is why we haven’t even thought about putting additional efforts in changing the Lisbon strategy or at least this part of it that concerns its implementation in Bulgaria. We have always counted on the perspective the EU to adopt us and because we are a small country no one would notice that Europe is dragging us.

That is why we concentrate our talking on absorption of funds and on the implementation of a minimum set of criteria so that we don’t lose the money. If we look at what’s going on in Hungary, which is not the only one, but the problems showed up explosively, we will find out that these, actually much more advanced countries than us, have serious problems which their leaders have obviously tried to hide from the public and now globalization forced these problems to show up. We can only guess what might happen with our economy if we leave things like this.

Beside this we have a bigger problem and it is that we still haven't reformed something which is fundamental for all other reforms and that is mentality. Now a quote comes up in my mind from the Bulgarian weekly “Capital” in an article about the lack of transparency in the competition for private bailiffs. Before the newspaper unnamed participants who failed said that “different independent sources said that they have heard about a bribe of some 10 to 20 thousand levs or 50 thousand levs or even about payment before and after the competition”.

“I have heard something like this, says another participant, I was ready to pay but I couldn’t contact the right person”. That man adds that such a sum can be accumulated very quickly by working as a private bailiff on Sofia. It is hardly necessary to quote more cases like this, but while there is such a phenomenon there won’t be real first class membership in the EU. And here comes the great talking at cross purposes with the European Commission. It claims that there is corruption in Bulgaria and we throw before it statistics after statistics.