Bulgarians working in the United Kingdom should not be worrying for the moment because the departure of the UK from the European Union will take at least two years, European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva said on June 26.
Bulgaria’s Georgieva, whose portfolio is the EU budget and human resources, said in an interview with local television station bTV that her first reaction to the June 23 UK vote to leave the EU was shock.
The referendum vote in favour of Brexit would have “major consequences for the UK for the European Union and the entire world,” Georgieva said.
“Now we need to consider the decision and see that it is implemented wisely,” she said.
Georgieva foresaw no immediate problems for the EU budget, drafted up to the year 2020.
It would become clear in the coming weeks whether there would be changes to the plan for the Bulgarian presidency of the EU, currently scheduled for six months in 2018.
The UK is due, according to the current schedule, to hold the EU rotating presidency in the last six months of 2017. Estonia and Bulgaria, respectively, succeed the UK.
Georgieva said that the UK had the choice between the benefits of the internal market in the EU, for which it would have to pay, or becoming a third party to the market, which would take years of negotiations.
For the UK, it could prove more expensive to be outside the EU, if it makes use of the internal market, because for the moment Norway – not an EU member – makes a contribution to the EU budget of 107 euro a head, while UK citizens pay 77 euro a person.
Georgieva said that the vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU came from the elderly and people living outside the large cities who did not feel or did not realise the benefits of EU membership.
People’s disappointment came from the many crises of the past seven to eight years, with politicians guilty of having to failed to explain in plain language the need for the EU in situations of conflict, climate change, among others.
“We have lost a member of our family and have to realise why this happened,” Georgieva said.
Earlier, on June 25, BTA reported from Brussels that Georgieva conveyed a message to Bulgarians that in a world full of so many risks European countries are stronger together and have a better chance to withstand pressure.
“We have been transitioning through one crisis into another since 2008: financial, economic, of the eurozone, Greek, refugee, terrorism. Today’s crisis are not polite and they don’t wait for the previous one to pass. In view of these circumstances it is very tempting for nations to nationalize their achievements and collectivize problems. I hope that the outcome of this crisis will be stronger unity. Europe’s strength comes from being together,” Georgieva said.