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ESC'S ACTIVITY REPORT FOR 2018 WAS SUPPORTED BY THE COMMISSION ON LABOUR, SOCIAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC POLICY AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

The Commission on Labour, Social and Demographic Policy examined the Activity Report of the Economic and Social Council (ESC) for 2018 at its meeting on 3 April 2019.

Professor Lalko Dulevski, President of the Economic and Social Council, presented the activity of ESC for the past year. He highlighted the European focus of the Council's acts, consultations and discussions in 2018 and their relation with the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The pro-European topics occupy more than 90% of the activity of ESC during the past year, Prof. Dulevski underlined and clarified that the elaborated topics are also related to the challenges facing Bulgarian society. He outlined some of the acts of the ESC, which are of particular importance for the social and economic development of Bulgaria. These include the topic about the European Pillar of Social Rights, whereby the EU balances the burden and requirements among Member States between economic progress and social progress. The President of the ESC noted that in the Council's act on the European Social Rights Pillar and during the pan-European discussion the ESC clearly expressed its position that the initial proposal for its limited application only in the Eurozone countries was unfair. ESC insisted that the European Social Rights Pillar should be implemented in all Member States. This proposal was endorsed and supported at the European level by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Social Rights Pillar now applies to all Member States.

The future of Europe is another major topic for discussions, consultations and acts of the ESC since the publication of the White Paper on the future of Europe, the ESC President said. This topic continued to be developed in 2018. The new positions of the body of organized civil society are devoted to the future of labour in the context of the changes imposed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the European Labour Organization project which will enable the protection of labour rights in cross-border employment, as well as the proposal for a pan-European personal pension product aimed at overcoming cross-border disparities in voluntary pensions, and for the development of mountainous and semi-mountainous areas.

Working on national topics and linking them to European legislation and European policies, ESC has been recognized at the European level, Prof. Dulevski said. The President of the ESC pointed out for example two resolutions developed by the ESC on the economic and social dimensions of a future united and stronger Europe. These ESC documents convey the messages of the Bulgarian organized civil society on the most important challenges of the EU and Bulgaria to the European institutions on the eve of the meeting in Sibiu in May this year. In this regard, in a special letter, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker has assessed the documents as useful for the upcoming decisions, the President of the ESC announced. EU Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Market Union Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis has also expressed an opinion on the usefulness of the ESC resolution on the Commission's proposal for a Regulation to promote growth markets for small and medium-sized enterprises. Feedback on the activities of the ESC was given by the Bulgarian commissioner, Maria Gabriel, as well as many Bulgarian MEPs, Prof. Dulevski said. The EESC Labour Market Observatory has been particularly interested in the specific group of economically inactive persons identified by the ESC and the need for concrete measures focused on such persons.

Finally, Prof. Dulevski noted that in 2018 ESC celebrated the 15th anniversary of the beginning of its operation. The Bulgarian ESC has been functioning successfully over these years as an independent institution based on the EESC's model due to two strong factors. Above all, there is the consensus in Bulgaria on the role of organized civil society and secondly the fruitful cooperation with the EESC at every stage of the development of the Bulgarian institution.

The Chairperson of the parliamentary Commission on Labour, Social and Demographic Policy - Dr. Hasan Ademov expressed his satisfaction with ESC's Activity Report for 2018 and from working together over the past year. He stressed the importance of the positions adopted by the ESC as an important reference point in the work of the Commission on Labour, Social and Demographic Policy and expressed his hope for even closer cooperation between the ESC and the Bulgarian National Assembly for a good understanding and fair solutions to the social challenges in Bulgaria.

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