25 stories told by 25 active citizens

Active citizenship is the glue that keeps society together. Democracy doesn’t function properly without it, because effective democracy is more than  just placing a mark on a voting slip. 

You can read here 25 examples of how our members engage in active citizenship and get an idea how you can act as well!

We will publish one story per week, so please tune in!



A healthy economy

13 Aug 2012 By: Milena Angelova 0 Posts

The long-term consequences of Bulgaria’s large informal economy are dire. Sometimes referred to as the grey economy, it operates beyond legal structures and jurisdiction. Valuable tax revenue required to build much-needed infrastructure, fund social programmes, and kick-start a damaged economy is simply lost. The most affected are all too often the most vulnerable. 

Without active citizenship, the phenomenon of the informal economy will continue to operate to the detriment of every inpidual citizen and the state as a whole,” says EESC member Milena Angelova. Active citizenship in Bulgaria is essential for the country’s development. People are understandably concerned about their future. Young people often have difficulty finding secure employment upon graduation and are forced to explore other avenues of income. The situation leads to a vicious circle, yet people implicitly understand that a large informal economy creates barriers and obstacles which work to the detriment of society. 

Removing those barriers is a task Ms Angelova dedicates her life to. The widespread informal economy engenders criminal activity. The loss in tax revenue is evident. But the associated criminal network places additional burdens on a state already struggling with high unemployment and low wages. 

We conducted numerous surveys, interviews and research with over 4 000 people from a number of diff erent sectors.

Better business, better society 

Ms Angelova is the Secretary-General of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA). BICA acts as a moderator in the negotiations between social partners and businesses. Its principal aim is to represent employers’ organisations on the national level and help foster the competitiveness of Bulgarian businesses on the global market. Creating a proper business environment that respects regulations has positive knock-on eff ects for society as a whole. 

One of our goals is to improve the socio-economic environment,” she says. “We can do this by reducing and preventing the informal economy and by improving working conditions.” 

People with contracted jobs have guaranteed rights. They pay into a pension; they pay into a health-care system and, when they need it, the state provides services to guarantee their well­being. A healthy society means rooting out corruption and promoting equal rights. It also entails getting people a proper education, improving labour conditions, and guaranteeing social security and a decent income. At its core, BICA and Ms Angelova’s work is about people. 

Understanding the informal economy 

Indeed, for the past few years BICA has been working on a long-term project to shed light on Bulgaria’s informal economy. Its goal is to restrict and prevent Bulgaria’s informal economy from expanding. Getting results and understanding how the informal economy operates requires engaging people from all walks of life. 

“We conducted numerous surveys, interviews and research with over 4 000 people from a number of different sectors, as well as over 650 companies. Apart from this, we get calls from hundreds of citizens on a designated hotline. They provide us with valuable information on the informal economy,” says Ms Angelova. So far, the research indicates that Bulgaria’s informal economy thrives in tourism, infrastructure construction, health care and milk processing. Finding solutions requires reaching out to people, finding their concerns, and providing tailored solutions. 

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