By Krassen Nikolov
The European Union must be much faster and more effective in its decision-making process. The only way to achieve this is to deepen integration. This position was shared by all three candidates for members of the the European Parliament during a debate in Sofia on the Day of Europe – Andrey Kovatchev (GERB), Alina Dobreva (Democratic Bulgaria) and Nastimir Ananiev (Volt Europa).
Andrey Kovatchev is a present member of European Parliament, and number 2 in the GERB election list. He commented that he has always supported the cause of deepening integration between member states, which in his words is also in the interest of Bulgaria.
“Many citizens, including nationalists and populists, complain that the decision-making system in the EU is too slow. The question is – are we ready to give the EU the tools to be quick and effective? This means that the decisions would be taken by majority, not unanimity. And the same nationalists who want an effective and quick union say they would not give up sovereignty. It depends on us to have an effective union because we are the EU”, Kovatchev said.
According to him, the nationalists in the EU defend absurd causes for which it is not even clear what they mean. Such as “Europe of Nations”.
“All nationalists and populists in Europe have begun to unite now. But I do not know how they could be together. What common causes do nationalists from Eastern and Western Europe have, what common causes could nationalists from Eastern Europe have?“ , Andrey Kovatchev rhetorically asked.
He said that integration of the EU has no alternative because of the globalisation, which requires accelerating the process of making important political decisions in Europe.
“If we do not want to be marginalised (on the global political stage), we have to get to the direct election of a president of the EU,” Kovachev said.
Alina Dobreva (Democratic Bulgaria) supported the same thesis. She said that the structure of the EU was the basis of its legitimacy. But she added:
“The world would not end if the structure of the EU is changed. It would just mean adapting the EU to the new conditions. The EU now has much more ambitious goals, set by its citizens. The Eurobarometer surveys show that the biggest problem of the European citizens – security – cannot be solved at national level”, Dobreva said.
She reminded that Brexit has shown that one of the biggest and strongest states in Europe – the UK – now realises that it is not big and strong enough outside the EU.
In her view, citizens need to understand better the functioning of the EU. Thus they would support it more. “Better understanding helps identifying more easily the problems in the EU and figuring out what needs to be changed. Then citizens would understand that the Brussels officials are not the main problem,” Dobreva said.
She explained that the EU must defend more the European values, and Bulgaria is a significant part of this problem. “You know why Bulgaria has been under special monitoring for 12 years now, for how it follows the rule of law and fights corruption,” Dobreva said.
Nastimir Ananiev (Volt Europa) said that life in Bulgaria would be better in a federal Europe. ” Europe is weaker when it is divided. We need a common foreign policy. Let’s think about the following example: Is Russia interested that an united Europe could negotiate gas supply prices?”, Ananiev asked.
According to him, Europe is in crisis because it suffers from lack of strong leadership. And this crisis has spread to European political families too. “Political families in Europe are in crisis. EPP has a problem with Orban. What will ALDE do with Bulgaria’s Delyan Peevski? What will the Socialists and Democrats do with the Romanian and Bulgarian socialist parties that are against the Istanbul Convention “, he asked rhetorical questions.
The debate in Sofia was organized by the European Movement, the Union of European Federalists and the Ministry of Defense. Prior to the discussion, the organisers stated that they have only invited representatives of pro-European parties. DPS did not respond to the invitation to participate in the discussion. BSP has unofficially declared that they had a problem with the participation of Andrey Kovatchev from GERB.
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