The Bulgarian “Presidency of the Council of the European Union” is coming up in January and will last until the end of June, 2018. Bulgarian officials involved in the preparation are busy. The resignation of the second Borissov government, and the political crisis caused by that step, were a blow to the preparations, but the caretaker government believes things are back on track.
Deputy Prime Minister Denitsa Zlateva said, her team had found out that the preparation work had been massively delayed. But she had been able to catch up with it.
There is still a lot of work ahead: For instance, many staffers will have to be hired, and conferences and meetings for that time period have to be organised. This also applies to cultural events within Bulgaria. The Bulgarian E.U. Presidency might be a challenge, but it is an opportunity as well.
According to the “Standart” daily, 20,000 Europeans will be in Sofia during the Presidency period, Bulgaria’s government will have hundreds of key meetings. Conference halls and other venues in the Bulgarian capital will be extremely busy, due to all of those events.
In the lobbies of the National Palace of Culture (NDK), the “historical and folkloric heritage of our country” will be exhibited, the “Standart” says. Apparently, the NDK will be refurbished ahead of time. New meeting rooms will be equipped with the latest gimmicks technology has to offer.
Municipalities throughout Bulgaria have the opportunity to organise cultural events and to submit them. That way they can become part of the Bulgarian E.U. Presidency event schedule. This means cities, villages and organisations can present their culture, their ideas or their art to large European audiences. The Ministry of Culture in Sofia, which will be taken over by Borissov’s government coalition, consisting of his GERB party and the radical right-wing “United Patriots”, is working on the programme.
The funds for the staff, the meetings, the events and the cultural programme will be provided by the E.U..
At this stage, Malta has the “Presidency of the Council of the European Union”. In July, Estonia will take over, until it is Bulgaria’s turn, starting in January. The main tasks for the country in charge is to drive forward the Council’s work. This includes E.U. legislation, the E.U. agenda and the cooperation between member states. According to the E.U., the Presidency must act as an “honest and neutral broker”.
Planning and chairing meetings in the Council is one of the big tasks, which of course includes the preparation in every single case. Bulgaria will also have to represent the Council in relations with other E.U. institutions.
The issue is that Bulgaria does not have an elected government yet. And once it does, it will probably happen quite soon, that government will partially consist of ultra-nationalist parties, who are not really fans of the E.U. (the feeling will probably be mutual), no matter what kind of coalition agreement they may have signed. Also, that government will only have a razor-thin, shaky majority in the National Assembly.