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Speech by National Assembly Chairman Georgi Pirinski at the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments

Speech by Mr. Georgi PIRINSKI
Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria
30 June 2006

Mr. Speaker,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a forthcoming member of the European Union, Bulgaria is today engaged in dealing with a two-fold challenge – to successfully cover the last remaining mile towards membership as of January 1-st 2007 and at the same time to prepare ourselves to contribute to the enhancement of the Union as a functioning model for peace, stability and welfare for citizens. The Bulgarian National Assembly has been playing a key role along both these lines of action.

As to completing reforms for fulfilling all commitments for membership, Parliament has adopted by overwhelming majority a Declaration endorsing the Government’s Plan of Action in response to the Commission’s Monitoring report of May 16-th. We have continued the cooperative mode of work with Government. By way of example I could cite the joint effort by the Committee on European Affairs and the Cabinet in updating the law on the protection of personal data. At the same time Parliament has undertaken to more purposefully control the implementation of legislation adopted and we stand ready to work throughout the summer months in full session in response to requirements for passing bills being introduced by Government.

Regarding membership as of next January 1-st I would like to take this opportunity to express our profound appreciation to every one of you Speakers and distinguished representatives of the by now 21 member-countries that have by now completed their ratification processes for the Accession Treaty with Bulgaria and Romania. May I also state the same deep recognition for the truly outstanding solidarity shown towards Bulgaria and Romania by the leaders of Parliaments of the countries of the Region al Initiative at the last meeting a week ago in Warsaw, who in the final statement of that meeting launched a call to those member countries that have not yet done so to accelerate their ratifications so that the whole process be completed in due time.
Mr. Speaker,

We at the same time are fully aware that the true challenges that Bulgaria will be called upon to tackle shall be those of positively contributing to the evolving Union, while striving to raise it’s competitiveness and living standard by utilizing the advantages of membership. The overall framework for our preparations are the general guidelines evolved in the course of the Austrian Presidency now coming to a successful close, and being carried forward at present under the commencing Presidency of Finland.

Truly today we find ourselves at no less than a historic crossroads for the whole process of European integration. Speaking before his National Parliament less than ten days ago, H.E. the Prime Minister of Finland focused on two key problems confronting the Union Today – namely, weak legitimacy and ineffective decision-making, both leading to a lack of visible, tangible results and thus creating a kind of vicious circle: citizens do not see the Union’s relevance in their daily affairs, they thus demand stronger action from their national governments, which in turn hampers resolute and visionary action.

We fully share the resolve that this vicious circle must be broken – both in the best interests of every Bulgarian citizen and also in agreement with our fundamental commonly shared interest to sustain and keep enhancing the European Union as a value-based community existing solely for its people. The joint session in Brussels on May 8 and 9 on the future of Europe was most beneficial for a broad range of parliamentarians and we are looking forward to the next such meeting under the Finnish presidency.

Clearly the forthcoming period will be directly influenced by the issues having to do with enlargement. While seeking to determine the working balance between meeting membership criteria and ensuring the effective functioning of the Union, we believe it is of vital importance to intensively develop regional cooperation and integration. The full importance of the latter needs no clearer proof than the experience of Nordic cooperation over the decades of the last half century and up to the very present. Despite existing differences and varied associations, the outstanding achievements of the countries of this region are clear proof for the vital role of regional integration for sustained growth and social welfare and security.

We in Bulgaria are determined to carry forward under the Union framework our long-standing commitment to Balkan cooperation. Having initiated the restarting of the multilateral process of such cooperation a decade ago, we are today working to help build a system of regional networks for interaction that could both underpin durable solutions to critical problems remaining unresolved and also provide the basis for accelerated development and a different quality of life in all countries of the region.

Mr. Speaker,

In your truly path-breaking report you have invited us to examine two defining lines of Parliamentary action – monitoring subsidiarity as a means for greater Parliamentary involvement in on-going Union activities and engaging in the continuing debate on the future of the EU. For the Bulgarian Parliament the issues discussed and the reports tabled at this Conference are of particular value and relevance, since at present we are actively considering the ways and means or reshaping the way Parliament has been working.

Do permit me therefore to again express our appreciation for all the careful preparation of these deliberations as well as to thank you and through you all our Danish hosts for their genuine hospitality here in beautiful Copenhagen.

Thank you.
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