Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-10-03-Speech-2-187"

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"Mr President, I would like to begin by talking about Bulgaria, which in recent years has made notable progress in its transition to a free market democratic society, but not without economic and social problems. Secondly, the Union should tackle enlargement with sufficient budgetary resources. Enlargement will thereby have credibility in the eyes of those who want to be with us in the future, and credibility in the eyes of our public from this very moment. Nevertheless, Bulgaria now has an economy which is developing at a steady rate. This is not reflected, however, in a balanced improvement in the standard of living of the whole population. Perhaps a constructive dialogue between the government, the opposition parties and social representatives could provide a positive impetus to move things in the right direction. This dialogue would also contribute to the creation of the necessary administrative capacity for the effective management of the country, creating structures which do not currently exist and reducing cases of corruption. Many countries have faced similar problems at some time in their development and can advise Bulgaria in order to help it to overcome those problems it is facing at the moment. In Bulgaria, 20% of the active population is out of work. In addressing problems such as this, which have no easy solution, it is essential to create an environment conducive to the work of industry and to there being competitive economic structures. Bulgaria also has an important geopolitical role to play in the future of the Balkans. Its cooperation with the international community during the Kosovo conflict, and its balanced role at that time, are of great importance for the whole region. In fact, Bulgaria uses its position as a bridge between Central Europe and the Balkans in a way that is fruitful for everyone. The European Union must continue to help Bulgaria in its progress towards joining the Union and, of course, to ensure that the planning of that aid becomes even more decentralised. Mr President, having talked about Bulgaria, I would not want to end without a more general comment. I would like to restate our support for enlargement. If we want the process of enlargement to take place in a serious and honest way, we will have to give a commitment to two essential issues. Firstly, that enlargement should take place hand in hand with a deepening of the Community. The Intergovernmental Conference must therefore be an effective step forward on the road to political union."@en1

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