Ratification via parliament

The future of the EU is a topic with very limited media coverage in Bulgaria. The leading actors demonstrating a considerably high level of activity with regard to this topic are mainly Bulgarian politicians directly involved in the EU policy-making process, i.e. the Prime Minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Minister of European Affairs, and the Bulgarian MEPs. For the broader public and the NGO sector the EU’s future development and perspectives are not of a high priority. In this respect, the Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs Ms. Gergana Grancharova states that: “Bulgarian citizens are not interested in the EU policy-making process. They are interested in the EU decisions themselves.”[1] According to her, the Bulgarian debate on the EU future has been “shadowed” by domestic issues.[2]
Bearing in mind the current state of this debate in Bulgaria on the basis of the limited information in the Bulgarian public media, we will try to present the main Bulgarian positions on the Lisbon Treaty. According to the Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, Bulgaria was an active participant in the elaboration of the new reforming treaty, as a result to which the Bulgarian national interests are well defended.[3] The position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivailo Kalfin, expressed in an interview for Bulgarian Nation Radio is also along these lines: “This treaty is in a complete harmony with Bulgarian national interests, [and the latter] are well defended.”[4] The Foreign Minister firmly supports the new Lisbon Treaty claiming that this treaty gives further opportunities for a more transparent policy-making process within the institutional machinery of the EU, providing for the participation of the civil society in the EU decision-making process.[5] In the same interview Ivailo Kalfin also supports the future limiting of the number of European Commissioners arguing that after the reform the European Commission’s efficiency and flexibility with respect to the decision-making process are expected to increase.
As an example of the effective defence of the Bulgarian national interest during the negotiations concerning the Lisbon Treaty, Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs Ms. Gergana Grancharova outlines the decision of the EU member states’ governments and European institutions to accept the Cyrillic pronunciation and spelling of the European currency “evro” as a legitimate part of official EU documents. The Bulgarian position, as well as its acceptance by other member states, received a high media coverage in Bulgaria and was strongly supported by Bulgarian citizens.
Concerning the issue of the ratification timetable, leading Bulgarian politicians express their support for the idea that the treaty should not be ratified as fast as possible but that a wider public debate should be held before the ratification starts. Bulgarian MEP Mr. Kristian Vigenin (PES) claims that ratification without a broad debate would not be a very appropriate decision. At the same time, he supports the Lisbon Treaty ratification by the Bulgarian National Assembly, arguing that referendum ratification could be used, as a political tool, by those opposing the Lisbon Treaty and future development of the European integration process.[6] Support for a wider public debate has also been expressed by European Commissioner Ms. Meglena Kuneva who states that what is important is “ […] not who will first ratify it [the Lisbon Treaty] but who will understand it better […]”. [7]
The Minister of European Affairs[8] and the Chairman of Bulgarian National Assembly Georgi Pirinski[9] are in favour of the ratification of the Lisbon treaty by the parliament and not via referendum. Both politicians do not expect any ratification problems bearing in mind the current composition of the Bulgarian National Assembly.
Concerning the establishment of “The Committee of the Wise” in Bulgaria there was no reaction and debate on its mandate, personalities and expected results. The country has provided no articulated position on the issue yet. Therefore it is natural to expect that it will be influenced by the reaction of the leading member states.

[1] Interview with the Bulgarian Minister of European Affairs Ms. Gergana Grancharova for Weekly Newspaper “Kapital”, 21.12.2007, available at: , accessed on: 01.01.2008.

[2] Ibidem.

[3] Bulgarian Prime Minister Mr. Sergei Stanishev, “Prez parvata godina ot chlenstvoto v ES pokazahme, che umeem da otstoiavame interesite si” (“During our first year as a member state we demonstrated that we can defend our interests”), 13.12.2007, available at: , accessed on: 01.01.2008.

[4] Interview of Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ivailo Kalfin for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Horozont, “Nedelja 150” program (“Sunday 150”), available at: (the official website of Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), accessed on: 01.01.2008.

[5] Interview of Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ivailo Kalfin for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), “Deniat zapochva” program (“The Day Starts”), available at: (the official website of Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), accessed on: 01.01.2008.

[6] “Narodnoto sabranie shte ratifizira Dogovora ot Lisabon oshte parvite messezi na 2008g” (“The Bulgarian National Assembly will ratify the Lisbon Treaty within the first months of 2008”), Info radio, available at: , accessed on: 01.01.2008.

[7] Ibidem.

[8] “Bulgaria shte ratifizira dogovora ot Lisabon v nachaloto na 2008” (“Bulgaria will ratify Lisbon Treaty in the beginning of 2008”), Bulgarian Post, 21.12.2007, available at: , accessed on: 01.01.2008.

[9] Ushev, Dimitar, “Dogovorat za reformi na ES ot Lisabon – trudniat pat kam edno po-dobro satrudnichestvo” (“EU Lisbon Reforming Treaty – difficult way towards a better cooperation”), Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), available at: , accessed on: 01.01.2008.