Sun, May 19 2013
Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev announced on November 12 2008 the members of his new advisory board of foreign counsellors, made up of former top office-bearers from Western Europe, with France's former prime minister Dominique de Villepin as its chairperson.
According to a statement on the Bulgarian Government website, other members of the board will include Spain's former foreign minister Jose Pique, former European justice commissioner Antonio Vitorino, a former member of the European Court of Auditors Onus Salmi and the president of the European College in Bruges, Paul Demaret.
Stanishev said that the main reason for the initiative in setting up the board was that the process of integration of Bulgaria in the European Union did not end with the country's formal accession on January 1 2007 but continues through the adaptation of Bulgaria's economy, institutions, and society to life in the EU.
"From this viewpoint is extremely important for Bulgaria to learn from best practices and experiences of various countries and institutions so that we can make a reality of the huge opportunity for our country," Stanishev said.
The challenges facing Bulgaria, he said, included people taking up the opportunities afforded them by the country's EU membership, as well as achieving the objectives established by the Lisbon Strategy, effective absorption of EU funds, including the maximum absorption, maximum transparency and efficiency mechanisms, strengthening control and accountability in spending of European funds and related improvement of administrative capacity in the Bulgarian administration, and knowledge of EU rules and practices.
Because Bulgaria needed serious help in this time of transition, a representative group of people, figures from the European level with enormous political, governmental, academic, administrative and professional experience in their fields, had been invited to assist the country and Government in efforts to achieve these objectives.
"I am convinced that this will be of huge benefit to the whole Bulgarian society for our country, not just at this moment, but in subsequent years," Stanishev said.
"We need their experience, their knowledge of their know-how to enable our country to actually be an active and reputable member of the European Union."
He said that the board, although created at the initiative of the Government, would act in a fully independent manner. Its members will have access to all information necessary for their work. They will interact not only with government institutions, but also with the NGO sector, with other political forces, economic factors in Bulgaria - employers and trade unions, the judicial system.
The work of the Board will be guided solely by the general interest of Bulgaria, De Villepin said.
The main tasks of the board would be assisting Bulgarian institutions in adapting to EU membership, improving relations between Bulgarian society and the European Union, improving the business environment and the internationalszation of SMEs in the European and world markets, education and training human capital, and Justice and Home Affairs.
De Villepin said that there were no simple solutions and the process of full integration was a long one. "We believe in your country and I think it definitely can play an important role in the European process," he said.
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