On 18 July 2014, the Plenary Session of the Economic and Social Council (ESC) adopted its own-initiative resolution on the “Recommendation for Council Recommendation on the Bulgaria’s 2014 National Reform Programme and delivering a Council opinion on Bulgaria’s 2014 convergence programme”. The document is part of the ESC activity regarding the European semester – the tool, which coordinate the fiscal and economic policies within the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The document highlights the ESC satisfaction with the European Commission findings that Bulgaria has reinforced its fiscal framework over 2013, the public finances of the country are stable, actions have been taken on the establishment of a Fiscal Council under the Public Finance Law and progress has been made in absorbing the operational programmes funds and the other investment funds over the last year.

The European Commission correctly identified the problem areas of our country where further efforts are needed for continuation and acceleration of the reforms, but at the same time the ESC notes that the main Commission recommendations are similar to those from the previous two years.

The ESC once again explicitly states that the most important actions for achieving growth and employment are normalizing the labour market, the measures aiming at young people and their education as well as measures for the stability of the pension and healthcare system. This is the reason why the resolution covers mainly these areas.

With the adopted resolution the ESC supports the recommendations of the European Commission for extending the range of the active employment policies, for increasing the coverage of unemployment benefits and social assistance as well as conversing the employment services into “transition management agencies”. The guiding principle in the active labour market policy should be the binding with the specifics and the particular characteristics of the target groups, including in terms of education and qualification, age, gender, certain extend of work capacity and more.

The resolution calls for urgent, targeted measures and legislative changes for tackling the deepening problem of youth employment. There is urgent need to start implementing the measures under the National Plan for Implementation of the European Youth Guarantee by identifying the young people and establishing contact with those, who are not registered at labour offices.

In the education field, the ESC once again emphasizes on the need for improving the management of schools and universities and their financial independence while insisting on the rapid adoption of the Law on Pre-school and School Education and improving the connection between employers and learners.

The ESC considers with high caution the challenges facing the stability of the pension system in Bulgaria. In its resolution the ESC unanimously supports the recommendation of the European Commission to prepare a long-term strategy, but only after consultations with the widest possible range of stakeholders and with the support of all parliamentary represented political forces in the next National Assembly. At the same time, the ESC insists on the preparation of in-depth analysis before linking the retirement age with the life expectancy.

The strategy should contribute to enhancing the stability of the pension system by regulating the necessary measures at the entrance - the amount of contributions, their distribution and collection, etc.; strengthening the structure to ensure the financial stability of the system in the long-term as well as the adequacy of pensions, which to motivate young people to actively participate in the pension system. This is the unanimous position of the ESC.

In a number of acts, the ESC draws attention to the need of encouraging SMEs and improving their access to finance, of improving the business environment in Bulgaria. Currently, the ESC gives the greatest importance to all the necessary efforts that the institutions have to make for the successful completion of projects from the programming period 2007-2013 and to the rapid start of operational programmes for the new 2014-2020 period.



is the “bridge” between citizens and the national government. Its mission is to support such “bridging” so as to facilitate the communication between the society and the national government. It is the new and modern institution of the civil dialogue.

The ESC's mission is to promote civil society organisations access to and involvement in the process of decision-making on strategic economic and social issues.

The main goal of ESC's operation is to enable different representatives of organised civil society to feel free to state their views whereas unanimity on matters of common interest is encouraged. The Council expresses and protects civil society interests by communicating agreed statements and proposals submitted by its members to the executive and legislative authorities.

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