29.11.2017Roma integration and the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

On November 22, Veliko Tarnovo hosted a meeting dedicated to the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Minister Lilyana Pavlova, Mr. Daniel Panov, Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo and Regional Governor Prof. Lubomira Popova took part in it. Minister Pavlova presented the motto of the Bulgarian Presidency, United We Stand Strong, and the four priorities under the Bulgarian Presidency: 1) the debate on the future of Europe and young people, and the debate on the future of Cohesion Policy and the forthcoming budget; 2) security and stability; 3) the theme for the Western Balkans, which is also the specific Bulgarian contribution to the presidency and 4) the single digital market.

Teodora Kroumova put two questions in the framework of the subsequent discussion. The first was to provide an accessible environment during the Presidency. Lilyana Pavlova's response only referred to accessibility in the National Palace of Culture. The National Palace of Culture will not concentrate all the events within the Presidency. This again showed that Bulgaria still fails to guarantee the freedom and accessibility of every citizen, either through its attitudes, or in terms of the physical accessibility of the environment. It turned out that even the hall where the presidency's priorities (the Museum of Revival and the Constituent Assembly) were presented did not provide any possibility for people with physical disabilities to attend the meeting. During the presidency, however, Bulgaria will have to find a way to actually apply one of the principles, which in many other member states is a part of everyday life and not an additional complication.

The second question put by Teodora Krumova is why Bulgaria neglects the topic of Roma integration. Despite the continued insistence both on the part of the civil sector and the European Commission, Bulgaria did not accept the hosting of a European Roma Platform during the Bulgarian Presidency, unlike the other country in the trio - Austria, which has only 0.2% of the Roma population. Teodora Kroumova stressed that Bulgaria has thus missed the chance to show political will, good practices, and to raise significantly the level of public support (internal and external) for the integration processes. Lilyana Pavlova said that the issue of Roma integration would still be included in the events during the Presidency: the High Level Conference on the Future of the European Social Fund organized by the MLSP, as well as the events organized by the Ministry of Education and Science.


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