Stanishev: EU 2020 plan needs stronger social element

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The 'Europe 2020' strategy recently presented by the European Commission needs clearer indicative goals and should be more social and cohesive, Bulgarian socialist leader Sergey Stanishev told EURACTIV in an interview.

Stanishev was in Brussels to attend a meeting of the Party of European Socialists prior to a summit of EU leaders which ends today (26 March). He was Bulgarian prime minister until last summer, when national elections were won by the European People's Party-affiliated GERB party led by Boyko Borissov, who is the new head of government.

The Socialist leader said he wanted cohesion to be added as a target to the Europe 2020 strategy, because in his words Europe is still divided between well-developed rich countries and newcomers.

"Now, a more ambitious strategy is needed if we are to see a stronger, more cohesive and more social Europe that corresponds to people's expectations in 2020. In order to achieve this, you need a lot of ambition and strong coherence across different policy areas, because I see many good intentions but no clear outline for how to achieve these goals," Stanishev said.

Stanishev's views echo those of the Visegrad countries (EURACTIV 25/03/10) and to a certain extent the position of European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, expressed at the 25-26 March EU summit.

Stanishev criticised his successor's government for a lack of interest in the Europe 2020 strategy, and more broadly, for lacking in his words "any strategic priorities".

"I think that the current policy is distancing Bulgaria from what is happening in the rest of Europe," Stanishev said.

Seemingly alluding to the fact that his successor is a fireman by training, Stanishev quoted a Reuters analysis which said the Borissov government was working as "a fire command centre" by simply trying to extinguish fires raging in different sectors of society.

The Socialist leader also accused Borissov of authoritarian tendencies and inspiring fear in society, similar to the situation in the country's not-so-distant totalitarian past.

Stanishev described as "crazy" a move by the ruling GERB party to impeach Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov for publishing a transcript of his recent meeting with Economy Minister Simeon Djankov on his website.

Indeed, the ruling party has obtained the necessary signatures by MPs for the impeachment motion and if the vote in parliament confirms a majority of 160 or more out of 240 MPs, the country's constitutional court will have to decide whether or not to impeach the president.

"It's a message to the people that even the president can be smashed," Stanishev declared.

To read the interview in full, please click here.

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