“Employers have a lot to talk about with the representatives of the executive authorities. Because we are employers not only of our employees, but also of the state administration. Therefore we have solid expectations to receive the necessary understanding, concrete answers to specific questions we are concerned about and more effective resolution of emerging issues.”
With these words the Executive President of BIA and rotating chairman for 2018 of the Association of the Organizations of Bulgarian Employers (AOBE) Radosvet Radev opened the discussion on “Reviewing the Bulgarian Presidency and how we see the future of Europe – social and economic security”, with the participation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva.
The forum was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AOBE, involving more than 40 representatives of companies and branch organizations in different economic sectors. The purpose of the event was to outline the main economic benefits of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, as well as to identify key priorities for Bulgaria's future foreign policy.
According to Radosvet Radev, the Presidency has taught the Bulgarian administration to work at a higher speed, more dynamically, and expressed the expectation that this dynamics and operability will be maintained. He urged the participants in the meeting to present to Minister Zaharieva the problems that concern them with all their sharpness, because their words will be her arguments.
“The more time passes since our Presidency, the more objective is the analysis of its results. I very much hope the self-confidence we have built and the ambitious goals we set up to remain at the same high level, to be preserved”, the Deputy Prime Minister said. “Bulgaria proved to have the strength to consolidate positions. We have made substantial progress on extremely difficult topics for the European Union. It is now important to capitalize on what has been achieved, especially with regard to the Western Balkans, where there is untapped potential both in terms of investment opportunities and trade, and in terms of attracting human resources”, Minister Zaharieva added. She also paid special attention to the need to restore Bulgarian positions on markets in other parts of the world, incl. Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
In his speech to the participants in the forum, the Chairman of BICA Vasil Velev stressed that the employers' organizations have presented to the public three new national goals - Bulgaria's accession to Schengen, ERM II and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In this regard, he said that the AOBE is already one step ahead, since the association is a member of the OECD Business Committee - BIAC since the beginning of 2018. “The priorities of Bulgaria’s foreign policy must come from economic interests,” Vasil Velev said. In this context, he stressed the need to reach bilateral agreements with a maximum number of non-EU countries to import workforce in Bulgaria due to the growing shortage of human resources for Bulgarian companies.
The Executive Director of KRIB Evgenii Ivanov also expressed a positive assessment for the concluded Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU and joined the discussion on the issues of future priorities, incl. on bilateral labor agreements.
In response, Minister Zaharieva provided information on what has been achieved so far with regard to Bulgaria's membership of the OECD, Schengen and ERMII, expressing the active role of employers' organizations in this process as well as their categorical and clear support.
Concerning bilateral agreements, Ekaterina Zaharieva announced that the agreement with Moldova is soon expected to enter into force. The agreement with Armenia is also close to the finishing line. A draft agreement was sent to the Ukrainian side, but an answer and a real start of negotiations are still awaited. A visit of the Bulgarian Minister of Labor and Social Policy to Vietnam is being prepared, where one of the topics for bilateral talks will be the import of workforce.
Minister Zaharieva agreed with the statement of the participants in today's forum that administrative procedures for the recruitment of third-country workers are sluggish. The Deputy Prime Minister is committed to organizing a working meeting devoted precisely to these issues and to seeking concrete solutions.