On January 1st, 2007, Bulgaria became a Member State of the European Union. Today we mark the 10th anniversary of that momentous event and prepare for the first Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which starts exactly one year from now.
The 10th anniversary since the moment of the symbolic return of Bulgaria to Europe is without a doubt a fitting occasion to reflect on the political, social and human aspects of this historic act. Today Europe has become a part of our every-day life, while Bulgaria has established itself as an equal participant in the debate for the future of our continent.
Joining the EU has allowed Bulgaria to become a part of the world’s biggest trade block – the Single Market of 500 million European citizens. Billions worth of EU funding have been invested in the modernization of Bulgaria’s regions and infrastructure. The stability and predictability of the EU rules and standards has created favourable conditions for a considerable increase of the foreign investments in the Bulgaria economy, as well as a steady progress in jobs creation.
The advantages that the EU membership provides to all its citizens include both the more general and the more practical aspects of our life. By means of its rules and standards, the EU safeguards the environment and the protection of the wild nature. It guarantees more rights for workers and consumers, more effective fight against corruption and trans border crime, easily accessible programs for exchange of university students, cheaper telecommunications and transport, especially the air transport, including the right for compensation for delayed flights, free of charge medical assistance for tourists, uniform consumer-friendly labeling of all products on the market, mutual recognition of driving licenses across the EU, and many other benefits in our every-day life that we now take for granted.
All those advantages of the EU membership have become self-evident for the citizens of our country and the level of appreciation for them by the Bulgarian people speaks for itself. Today, far more Bulgarians assess positively the country’s EU membership than back in the first years immediately after the accession in 2007. At the same time the public trust in Bulgaria towards the EU institutions has remained steadily high.
The practical advantages of EU membership are far from completing the full picture of our reflection on Bulgaria’s first decade as an EU Member State. By joining the EU, along with the concrete advantages of the EU membership, Bulgaria has succeeded to accomplish the legacy of the Apostle of Freedom – Vasil Levski, who spoke during the 19th century Bulgarian National Revival that our country must take its well-deserved place in Europe and the Bulgarian people must be equal to all enlightened European nations.
Despite facing a number of external and internal challenges, the EU, anchored to its fundamental principles of democracy, liberty, solidarity and tolerance, continues to be the most successful project for peace and prosperity on our continent.
Today we, the Bulgarian people, have solid reasons to be proud of our EU membership and look forward with self-confidence to the European future of our country.