Bulgaria could end up being marginalised if pro-EU parties achieve very good results in next May’s European Parliament elections and set their sights on reform of ‘the core Union’, Bulgarian MEP Svetoslav Malinov said during a discussion about the upcoming elections.
According to Malinov, a deputy in the centre-right EPP group, there is a difference between anti-European and Eurosceptic parties. Anti-European are those parties that don’t want the EU to exist or want their country to leave the Union.
These are nationalists like Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders. Eurosceptics, on the other hand, are those who think the EU has to exist but should not be developing toward further integration and that it is even better if the Union loses some of its powers.
Pro-EU forces defend the idea that the EU is an absolute benefit and has to be reformed in order to have more powers, a bigger budget and its own resources.
Malinov said that if the elections deliver a big pro-EU majority, the biggest reforms in the bloc will be to increase harmonisation within the eurozone, leaving behind countries like Bulgaria, which is not part of the euro or the Schengen passport-free area.
Centre-left MEP Georgi Pirinski said the European Commission had not presented a far-reaching strategy for the future development of the EU, like the existing Europe 2020. He added that Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had focused on digital and energy policy and capital markets and banking union, but not a social union.
He underlined that in the middle of the current term, the socialists have said that they were putting an end to the ‘grand coalition’ in the European Parliament because of which the socialists had lost their different identity.
Angel Dzhambazk, who sits with the Eurosceptic ECR group, said the EU must be reformed and Bulgarians have to stop thinking of it as something that is separate from them.
He said the European Commission cannot simply punish countries that don’t want to do something on their own territory, such as accepting migrants.
EPP MEP Eva Meydell commented that the upcoming elections will determine not only the composition of the EU institutions for the next five years but also what will be the future of Europe. If pro-EU parties don’t highlight the benefits of a united Europe, there is a risk of some people wanting Europe to retreat to the past, she said.
The EU is not perfect, but it is still the best way to tackle problems such as migration and social inequalities, Meydell added.