Europe should work for mechanisms where supranational institutions play a dominant role
Pho­to: © European Union
Maria Koleva, Brus­sels
24 September, 2011


Andrey Kov­at­chev is a Mem­ber of the Euro­pe­an Par­lia­ment, chair­man of the Bul­gar­i­an del­e­ga­tion in EPP, mem­ber of GERB. Mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee on for­eign affairs, Sub­com­mit­tee on secu­ri­ty and defence, and the EP Del­e­ga­tion for rela­tions with the US. Degree in Biol­o­gy from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Saar­land, Ger­ma­ny, Doc­tor of Nat­u­ral Sci­en­ces from the same uni­ver­si­ty. Area com­mer­cial man­a­ger for CIS for US com­pa­ny John Dee­re Inter­na­tion­al. Six years in Elsev­i­er B.V./Amster­dam as Region­al direct­or for Cen­tral and East­ern Europe and CIS. Flu­ent in Eng­lish, Ger­man, French, Rus­sian and Span­ish. 


Euro­pe­an pol­i­ti­cians so far could not clar­i­fy to their cit­i­zens that the advan­ta­ges of Euro­pe­an inte­gra­tion out­weigh the dis­ad­van­ta­ges. - Mr. Kov­at­chev, isn’t the present sit­u­a­tion in the Euro­zone indic­a­tive of weak­ness in the inter­gov­ern­men­tal approach to cri­sis man­age­ment? 

The price of sal­vag­ing Greece is small­er com­pared to the price of its default and let­ting it leave the euro. 

Reli­gion can­not have pri­or­i­ty over democ­ra­cy.  

- All moments of cri­sis, and par­tic­u­lar­ly of recur­ring sit­u­a­tions, also ques­tion Europe’s abil­i­ty to have an ade­quate response. I have always been of the opin­ion, espe­cial­ly as vice-pres­i­dent of the Union of Euro­pe­an fed­er­al­ists, that Europe should work for mech­a­nisms in which the Euro­pe­an supra­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions play a dom­i­nant role. We have cri­ses in many fields, not just in the finan­cial and eco­nom­ic sphere, there is a cri­sis in migra­tion pol­i­cy when migra­tion waves are expect­ed, main­ly from the South, from the rest­less North Afri­ca and the Mid­dle East, or nat­u­ral calam­i­ties, con­flicts, where Europe is also active, so I think supra­na­tion­al mech­a­nisms are more effi­cient and com­ply with the prin­ci­ple of sub­sid­i­ar­i­ty. As we know, every deci­sion of EU is weighed from the point of view of sub­sid­i­ar­i­ty, wheth­er it would be more effi­cient to be tak­en at Euro­pe­an lev­el, or at nation­al lev­el, or low­er, at region­al or local lev­el. It is more effi­cient to take deci­sions that do not allow cri­ses at supra­na­tion­al lev­el. 

- How threat­en­ed are the euro and the integ­ri­ty of the mon­e­tary union at the moment? 

- The euro and the mon­e­tary union will be threat­en­ed until we build a real eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal union, based on these supra­na­tion­al prin­ci­ples. As it is, there are two sce­nar­i­os for the euro. The pes­si­mis­tic sce­nar­io is if in the EU we do not agree on supra­na­tion­al mech­a­nisms that would come into force auto­mat­i­cal­ly when­ev­er the rules are bro­ken and the rel­e­vant sanc­tions or cor­rect­ive steps would not have to be bar­gained between the Mem­ber States. For exam­ple, what hap­pened with the Sta­bil­i­ty Pact and which was the first coun­try that infringed this prin­ci­ple – it was Ger­ma­ny. Any resist­ance on the part of nation­al gov­ern­ments to keep con­trol over the rules of oper­a­tion of the eco­nom­ic and mon­e­tary union in fact gives an oppor­tu­ni­ty for manip­u­la­tion and through dip­lo­mat­ic chan­nels to achieve some agree­ment between the Mem­ber States con­cerned, which would break the rules again. I think, as many of my col­leagues do, that if we want to have rules that are real­ly observed these rules have to be auto­mat­ic and to be beyond the con­trol of nation­al gov­ern­ments, which would always find a way to reach an agree­ment and get round a rule. Thus we’ll have an opti­mis­tic sce­nar­io for the euro, too. 

- In this con­text, what are the chan­ces for a gov­ern­ment of the Euro­zone? 

- The dev­il is always in the details. It depends to what extent nation­al gov­ern­ments are ready to hand over part of their com­pe­ten­ces to this eco­nom­ic gov­ern­ment of the Euro­zone. In a longer-term per­spec­tive, why only eco­nom­ic, I think it should be a gov­ern­ment of the Euro­pe­an Union, based always on the sub­sid­i­ar­i­ty prin­ci­ple, which would be keep­er of the rules that need to be observed, as the EC is keep­er of the EU agree­ments. 

- Do you agree that all EU Mem­ber States should dem­on­strate sol­i­dar­i­ty, includ­ing finan­cial aid, in solv­ing the prob­lems of the Euro­zone?  

- Of course. Sol­i­dar­i­ty is a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of Unit­ed Europe, but here we enter into what is a sen­si­tive top­ic at the moment. In many Mem­ber States, such as Ger­ma­ny, the Neth­er­lands, France, which are con­sid­ered donor coun­tries or net con­trib­u­tors to the EU budg­et and their cit­i­zens can­not under­stand why they need to save oth­ers who have not observed the rules. My answer is the fol­low­ing: Euro­pe­an pol­i­ti­cians, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the major par­ties, cen­tre-left and cen­tre-right, are indebt­ed to Euro­pe­an soci­e­ty. Because they could not clar­i­fy to their cit­i­zens that the advan­ta­ges of Euro­pe­an inte­gra­tion out­weigh the dis­ad­van­ta­ges. I would like to see for each Mem­ber State a very clear sub­stan­ti­a­tion of the advan­ta­ges of this Euro­pe­an inte­gra­tion, espe­cial­ly for the so-called net con­trib­u­tors. For instance, in recent years euro­scep­ti­cism among Dutch cit­i­zens has grown, but they should real­ize what huge pro­por­tion of the EU trade goes through the port of Rot­ter­dam. In this way the Neth­er­lands ben­e­fits very much from the com­mon Euro­pe­an mar­ket, so the whole pic­ture should be seen. The same is val­id for Ger­ma­ny as a large export state – the EU funds that go to the new Mem­ber States return to the old Mem­ber States in the form of con­tracts for sup­ply of goods or serv­i­ces, espe­cial­ly Ger­ma­ny as a lead­ing EU econ­o­my. The whole truth should be always said, and not let popu­list and nation­al­ist par­ties speak only of what scares cit­i­zens – immi­gra­tion, crime, the secu­ri­ty of their jobs and social ben­e­fits. 

The sal­vage plan for Greece is an expres­sion pre­cise­ly of the sol­i­dar­i­ty between the cit­i­zens of Europe and the price of sal­vag­ing Greece is small­er com­pared to the price of its default and let­ting it leave the euro and intro­duce the drach­ma, which will nat­u­ral­ly be depre­ci­at­ed. All loans which are in euro can by no means be paid back by a Greece that has the drach­ma as a means of pay­ment. 

- Weren’t the EP and the Coun­cil a bit late in reach­ing com­pro­mise on the six leg­is­la­tive acts pack­age on the eco­nom­ic gov­ern­ance of the Union? 

- We can always say they should have been fast­er, but the dem­o­crat­ic pro­ce­dures of deci­sion mak­ing are fun­da­men­tal to EU and can­not be ignored. In a dic­ta­tor­ship deci­sions are always tak­en fast­er than in a dem­o­crat­ic envi­ron­ment where pol­i­ti­cians are respon­si­ble before the cit­i­zens and must take all their con­cerns into account. I wish the reac­tion was fast­er too, but these are the facts at the moment. The Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion will play great­er role in mon­i­tor­ing and impos­ing the sanc­tions, while the Coun­cil will still have the option of reject­ing the sanc­tions pro­pos­al by qual­i­fied major­i­ty. I hope this plan will work from no on. 

- Is the EU capa­ble of tak­ing on great­er polit­i­cal com­mit­ment in the fight against cor­rup­tion? 

- This is an ever present theme. In all Mem­ber States, and across the world for that mat­ter, the phe­nom­e­non of cor­rup­tion exists at all lev­els, how­e­ver in the advanced democ­ra­cies it is restrict­ed to min­i­mum. Once cor­rup­tion prac­ti­ces are dis­cov­ered, they inva­ri­a­bly lead to con­vic­tions. This is also the pur­pose in the EU – to have effi­cient detec­tion of such cor­rup­tion schemes or mech­a­nisms, bring­ing ben­e­fits to gov­ern­ment ser­vants, with the help of the pri­vate sec­tor which offers them, respec­tive­ly. We mustn’t close our eyes to the fact that many inter­na­tion­al com­pa­nies, doing busi­ness in var­i­ous regions of the world, are them­selves car­ri­ers of cor­rup­tions. Accord­ing to a sur­vey, cor­rup­tion costs €120bn per year to Euro­pe­an tax-pay­ers. This is to the det­ri­ment of both cit­i­zens and entre­pre­neurs. I think the EU could take on a coor­di­nat­ing role in the fight against this phe­nom­e­non, because in many cas­es cor­rup­tion is a trans-bor­der phe­nom­e­non and con­cerns more than one coun­try. Mar­kets in the Euro­pe­an Union are linked, so the fight against cor­rup­tion can be effect­ive only if it is supra­na­tion­al. Spe­cif­i­cal­ly, we are work­ing on great­er trans­par­en­cy of finan­cial trans­ac­tions and har­mo­ni­za­tion of Euro­pe­an law regard­ing the pro­tec­tion of per­sons who give warn­ings of infringe­ments and ille­gal rich­es. 

- Is the world, includ­ing Europe, more secure now, ten years aft­er the 9/11 trag­e­dy? 

- Indeed, 11 Sep­tem­ber 2001 set the begin­ning of a new era in inter­na­tion­al rela­tions and 10 years lat­er the world is quite dif­fer­ent. There are dif­fer­ent chal­len­ges relat­ed to rad­i­cal­ism, the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East. Accord­ing to the US Pres­i­dent, 10 years aft­er the attacks the net­work of Al Qae­da is weak­en­ed, but can that be said of the source of rad­i­cal­ism, which aft­er all is the eco­nom­ic state of many coun­tries of the so-called „third world“ and the Arab coun­tries, which are much more sus­cep­ti­ble to manip­u­la­tion toward rad­i­cal­ism and blam­ing for their fate the US or the West in gen­er­al. What­ev­er goals the 11 Sep­tem­ber 2001 attack­ers had I think they fail­ed because the civ­il­ized world sid­ed with the US and any­one who wants to live in peace and respect the rights of every­body, regard­less of ori­gin, views and reli­gion. Reli­gion can­not be used as a pre­text to any supe­ri­or­i­ty. Reli­gion can­not have pri­or­i­ty over democ­ra­cy. When reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties demand tol­er­ance, they in turn should be tol­er­ant to the oth­ers. I hope very much the so-called „Arab spring“ will lead to the estab­lish­ment of sec­u­lar dem­o­crat­ic states, where every creed can enjoy free­dom. Euro­pe­an lead­ers should show clear­ly that xen­o­pho­bic move­ments and polit­i­cal talk based on hatred have no place in Unit­ed Europe. The tra­di­tion­al polit­i­cal spec­trum, cen­tre-left, cen­tre-right missed the moment, I hope they will still explain to cit­i­zens that rad­i­cal move­ments can­not bring us any good and they do not have the answers. The Dutch rad­i­cal move­ment of Geert Wil­ders’ Par­ty of Free­dom has no answer to the ques­tion, what is to be done with the immi­grants from the Islam­ic coun­tries to the Neth­er­lands. They are already there, what­ev­er some may say of the death of the mul­ti­eth­nic and mul­ti­cul­tur­al mod­el of soci­e­ty. 

- Do you think there is a chance the divi­sion of opin­ion between the Mem­ber States on the acces­sion of Bul­gar­ia and Roma­nia to Schen­gen to be over­come soon? 

- I am very sur­prised and aggrieved at the Neth­er­lands stance, which does not take into account the real­i­ties but is based on emo­tions and the so-called „fact-free policy“, pol­i­cy of absence of facts. There isn’t a sin­gle fact to sub­stan­ti­ate the Dutch deci­sion. For the past 9 months we have been part of the Schen­gen Infor­ma­tion Sys­tem with­out a sin­gle case of mis­use of SIS infor­ma­tion. On the con­tra­ry, by includ­ing Bul­gar­ia and Roma­nia we con­trib­ute to enhance secu­ri­ty in the Schen­gen sys­tem. Besides, our bor­der with Tur­key is extreme­ly well-guard­ed by all Schen­gen stand­ards, includ­ing the upgrad­ing that is under­way. In con­ver­sa­tion with me, Fron­tex direct­or said Bul­gar­ia guard­ed very well and reli­a­bly the bor­der with Tur­key. There is no rea­son what­so­ev­er, except the inter­nal polit­i­cal rea­son in the Neth­er­lands and the xen­o­pho­bic atti­tude of Wil­ders’ par­ty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is yet anoth­er exam­ple of Europe becom­ing hos­tage to extreme popu­lists. The main polit­i­cal for­ces in the Neth­er­lands are afraid to call things by their name and say that by block­ing Bul­gar­ia and Roma­nia they would not stop the trav­els of their cit­i­zens to the Neth­er­lands. This is abso­lute­ly improp­er and is a sheer lie, because it has noth­ing to do with Schen­gen. The EPP has repeat­ed­ly reit­er­at­ed its posi­tion, sup­ports the posi­tion of EP, of the Euro­pe­an Com­mis­sion, of the Euro­pe­an Coun­cil experts for acces­sion of Bul­gar­ia and Roma­nia to Schen­gen.

One Response to “We need a government of the EU that would be keeper of the rules”

  1. Janaye казва:

    That’s way more celver than I was expecting. Thanks!


Стани член

    Стани член

Социални мрежи



    European Movement
    Federalist Intergroup
    Spinelli Group


Смятате ли, че увеличаването на Европейския фонд за финансова стабилност ще сложи край на финансовата криза в ЕС?


Loading ... Loading ...