The Annual Activity Report for 2017 of the Economic and Social Council (ESC) was discussed yesterday by the Parliamentary Committee on Labour, Social Policy and Demography. Thus, the requirement of the Economic and Social Council Act that every year the activity report should be examined by the members of the Bulgarian National Assembly in that committee - was fulfilled.

ESC President Prof. Dr. Lalko Dulevski briefly presented the activity of ESC during last year. He highlighted three directions in which ESC members worked during the year: the adopted acts, the consultations held, and discussions and cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee and other related international organisations.

Professor Dulevski noted that the adopted opinions, resolutions and analyses over the past year not only meet by far the economic and social needs to address the Bulgarian challenges but also have their European dimension in the context of preparations for the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU. In this connection, he highlighted the positions of the ESC through a number of acts such as the resolution on the "White Paper on the future of Europe: reflections and scenarios for the EU 27 to 2025", the opinion on "Accelerating the preparations for Bulgaria's accession to the Eurozone" on the Annual Growth Survey for 2017(AGS)". In the resolution on the AGS, the position of the Bulgarian Economic and Social Council on the need to balance economic and social indicators and to take into account progress on social indicators is already put in practice, Prof. Dulevski indicated. Strengthening and coordinating the social dimension of progress in the EU is one of the priorities of the Bulgarian presidency, said the ESC President. He stressed that the ESC recently adopted a special opinion on the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), in which it is urged during the Bulgarian Presidency to initiate a European and national plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. ESC's position is that this pillar should be applied in all countries, not just in the countries of the Eurozone. The Bulgarian Minister of Labour and Social Policy expressed the same view at the meeting of social policy ministers in Brussels in March this year.

Organized civil society in Bulgaria in all its acts has a full consensus that Europe must remain united and not be divided into speeds or zones. These clear positions are expressed in relation to the 5 scenarios outlined for the future of Europe and the objective assessment of Bulgaria for its possible accelerated entry into the ERM2.

As every year so far, the Economic and Social Council has linked its activities with another European and national priority - education. With its resolutions on "Possible Directions for the Development of the System for Vocational Education and Training in Bulgaria" and "Early School Leaving - Problems and Possible Solutions" ESC also entered the pan-European debate during the Bulgarian presidency. ESC insists on ensuring that every child has access to education through special European and national mechanisms. These mechanisms involve all institutions, the school and the family, Prof. Dulevski indicated. ESC has proposed the creation of a pan-European information system that gathers data about every child, where and what he/she is studying in the country's education system, in order to reduce the risk of early school leaving and to clarify the educational status of each child.

Professor Dulevski noted that ESC has changed the focus of its discussions and prefers instead of high-profile events to meet with the young people in their native places and to comment together with them labour market issues, demography, regional policies, youth policies, education and qualifications. ESC continues to study the attitudes of migrant youth graduates and has already established persistent trends in internal migration caused by many factors such as low incomes, lack of quality jobs, poor social environment, etc. These trends, according to Prof. Dulevski, should be the subject of attention at all levels of government. He also noted that there are no well-structured regional policies and this is one of the reasons for depopulation of whole areas. The President of ESC pointed out that the forthcoming new division of our country should seek a balance of economic and social indicators, not just of statistical data. Professor Dulevski also noted the increased interest of the institutions in the consultations organized by the ESC on the topics of its acts.

EESC's recognition of ESC's achievements comes not only in terms of words, but also in terms of the many joint events, the participation of ESC members in major international fora, joint initiatives. Often ESC's proposals meet the support of the European Economic and Social Committee and other similar organizations at the European level.

After presenting the report, the members of the National Assembly showed great interest in ESC's work, in how to reach consensus with 3/4 majority on such important topics, whether joint discussions could be organized with other parliamentary committees, such as that focusing on education, is it possible to reach a position on Bulgaria's internal division into "different speeds", how to help the development of mountain areas, how to stimulate income growth and pensions.

The Chairman of the Committee Dr. Hasan Ademov assessed the activity of the ESC as a support for the activity of the members of the National Assembly. He highlighted ESC's position that Europe should not have different speeds and recommended that the ESC should also address other issues relevant to Bulgaria and Europe, such as the next multiannual financial framework, the preservation of cohesion, etc.



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.

Read More