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THE EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL - CHALLENGES AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS FOR BULGARIA

The European draft for climate law is nearing completion and will become mandatory for all EU Member States in the autumn. Therefore, it is imperative that even before the autumn of this year, Bulgaria's position on the Green Deal be defended through urgent action following the model of Poland, which most effectively protects its national interests.

This was the common position of the Economic and Social Council (ESC), announced today at a press conference on the occasion of an opinion adopted by the Council on "The European Green Deal - Economic, Social and Environmental Challenges and Possible Solutions for Bulgaria". The President of ESC Prof. Lalko Dulevski stressed that the ESC opinion supports the ultimate goal of the Green Deal to prevent a climate catastrophe due to environmental pollution. The opinion also emphasises that Bulgaria has good reasons to express reservations about the ambitious goals for an accelerated transition to a low-carbon economy in the EU, especially with regard to the pace of transformation and deadlines.

There are three main "red lines" that should not be ignored in the ongoing negotiations on the Green Deal, said Plamen Dimitrov, ESC member and President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria. Bulgaria should not accept the intermediate goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 2030 by 50% or more, and to adhere to the Paris Agreement, according to which the goal is to reduce by 40% compared to 1990.

Bulgaria must defend the position not to redirect funds from national revenues from the sale of carbon emissions to cover the budget deficit in the EU, and all energy-intensive industries to receive a sufficient amount of free allowances in line with actual production, said Plamen Dimitrov.

A third position, on which ESC's opinion is unequivocal, is the need to introduce a mechanism for imposing a carbon tax to protect European producers from imports of goods and services outside the EU.

Bulgaria is the most affected EU Member State among the medium-term goals set in the Green Deal, commented Vasil Velev, a member of the ESC and Chairman of the Board of BICA. In its current form, the Green Deal is suicidal for the EU and needs to be revised. Otherwise, it would lead to deindustrialisation of the EU - many productions could be exported to third countries, from where we will then have to import products. Vasil Velev raised the issue of forming a new European climate diplomacy, which would attract other countries outside the EU to the cause of the Green Deal. According to ESC's Opinion, the Green Deal in its current form is not adequate to the situation and does not have sufficient support globally. Vasil Velev argued this position with data on the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world, which are respectively China - 27%, USA - 15%, in third place is the EU - 9.8%, and close to the EU is India with almost 7%. According to IMF data, in the next 4 years the biggest economic growth is expected to be achieved by China, the United States and India, leading emitters of carbon dioxide, but not the EU. That is why the EU cannot afford to lag behind in its economic growth, Velev added.

For Bulgaria, which cannot rank in the top places in terms of growth, it is even more crucial to protect its national interests now, before the adoption of European climate legislation.

Plamen Dimitrov and Vasil Velev announced that the most affected industries in our country will be energy, transport, chemical industry, metallurgy and agriculture.

The press conference focused on the need for a plan for energy development in Bulgaria until 2025, while Bulgaria can count on state aid for the transformation of its coal-fired power plants, but with conditions. Bulgaria's energy sector, and in particular the energy mix, as well as the country's energy security, can be particularly vulnerable if timely and well-thought-out decisions related to the transformation to a low-carbon industry are not taken.

The opinion draws particular attention to the need for Europe to create a social pact for the transition to climate-neutral policies, involving Member States, regions, cities, the social partners and organised civil society. Overcoming inequalities, eradicating energy poverty, improving the quality of life, creating jobs and social inclusion must become objectives of the social pact.

Regarding the preparation of Bulgaria for the implementation of the Green Deal, ESC makes a number of specific proposals related to national and sectoral strategic planning.

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