Bulgaria’s EU Presidency – Venturing into the Unknown

Bulgaria’s EU Presidency – Venturing into the Unknown

Great Britain’s decision to leave the EU radically changed the union’s plans for the future. One of these changes concerns the rotating presidency of the EU with Bulgaria now having to assume its presidency six months earlier than planned – on 1 January instead of 1 July 2018.
The more experienced countries of the EU start preparing for their presidencies 12 or even 18 months earlier. Knowing that this is a responsibility Bulgaria will be taking on for the first time, this country started preparing three years ago, but even before the Brexit referendum it was said that it was running critically late. In May this year government sources explained the delay with the bickering over who should head the national headquarters coordinating the preparations and the presidency itself. Now that it is clear the presidency will begin six months earlier, Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister for European Policies Coordination and Institutional Affairs tentatively comments that meeting preparation deadlines was “not impossible”.
The situation really is complicated. The organizational question arises whether by1 January, 2018 Sofia will have found a location to take in all of the 20,000 people expected to take part in the meetings in Bulgaria’s capital city over the six months of the country’s presidency. Overhauls of the official residences in Boyana and Lozenets are planned, as well as of the buildings of the former party house and the National Palace of Culture, but the deadlines are now really tight and the cost will be so much higher that some have starting asking the question whether the Bulgarian presidency might not become a “Brussels presidency”. This idea would mean Bulgaria would have to dispatch more people to its permanent representation in Brussels and have most of the events connected with its presidency held there.


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