Regional Cooperation in Europe and Its Role in the Common Policies of the EU Was the Main Topic of Discussion between Georgi Pirinski and Ernest Benach, Chairman of the Parliament of Catalonia
21 July 2008
The regional cooperation in Europe and the role of the regions in the common policies of the European Union were on the focus of the talks between National Assembly Chairman Georgi Pirinski and Catalonia’s Parliament Chairman Ernest Benach. Mr. Benach is heading the parliamentary delegation paying an official visit to Bulgaria on 21-22 July 2008. The visit is taking place at the formal invitation of Bulgaria’s National Assembly Chairman Georgi Pirinski. The head of the Bulgaria – Spain friendship group Angel Naydenov and the deputy chair of the parliamentary group of the United Democratic Forces Assia Mihailova took part in the talks
The National Assembly of Bulgaria aims at playing an active role in the process of cooperation in South- East Europe and is hosting the Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in SEE, noticed Mr. Pirinski. He reminded that recently parliamentarians from 11 countries in the Region have discussed such important issues as visa policies, migration and infrastructure projects. He added that last year the European Commission has adopted an initiative for Synergy in the Black Sea Region the purpose of which is to enhance the regional cooperation in this part of Europe.
The Head of Catalonia’s Parliament Ernest Benach announced that the cooperation between states from different regions can contribute to the future regional configuration in Europe. He underscored that Mr. Pirinski’s visit to Catalonia in 2007 has given the opportunity to the institutions in the two countries to deepen their relations at all levels. Mr. Benach noticed that in the last seven years the number of Bulgarians living in Catalonia has increased from 700 to 10 000.
Chairman Pirinski mentioned that Bulgaria faces the challenge to develop quickly and successfully its regional connections as far as infrastructure is concerned as to become easily accessible for people willing to work in the country and said that the experience of Catalonia in this regard could be extremely helpful to Bulgaria
The Chairman of the parliamentary Bulgaria-Spain friendship group Angel Naydenov pointed to the great potential still unused for cooperation between Bulgaria and Catalonia in the fields of tourism, high tech, biotechnologies, infrastructure, communications etc. He added that these fields could be a solid base for future joint initiatives and projects.
He mentioned that the first meeting of the Joint Steering Committee of the European Territorial Cooperation Programme 2007 - 2013 takes place Tuesday in Thessaloniki.
In his statement for the media, Georgi Pirinski stressed that for Bulgaria the partnership with Catalonia is very valuable because the region is one of the most developed in the European Union and a good example of successful policies combining national resources with funds of the EU, as well as for integration.
Ernest Benach talked about the principle of subsidiarity as basic for the novel architecture of Europe that is more and more transforming itself in a common home for all of its inhabitants and he said that Catalonia remains open for cooperation on these particular matters.
Answering the question of the impending report on Bulgaria of the European Commission, Georgi Pirinski commented that attempts to destabilize the current political situation in the country were not useful. He added that criticism in the reports could be very beneficial to uncover in a realistic manner the depth of the problems and the ways to tackle them.
The parliamentary delegation of Catalonia is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev and the Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria Angel Marin. The delegation will also confer with the leadership of the Bulgaria- Spain friendship group and will visit the town of Plovdiv, where they will meet the Regional Governor Todor Petkov.