On 14 January, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), George Dassis, began his 2-day visit to Bulgaria. This is his first official visit at the invitation of a national economic and social council of an EU Member State since he was elected EESC president in October 2015.
During his visit to the Bulgarian National Assembly, Mr Dassis was presented with an honorary plaque by the Speaker, Ms Tsetska Tsacheva. The following discussion revolved around the possibility of organising a European forum to seek solutions to the problems of migration of young people from Southern Europe and Bulgaria towards the EU. Other topics included mechanisms to promote opportunities for young people in their countries and to improve their respective demographic policies.
During the meeting, Mr Dassis shared the EESC proposal for the establishment of a special European fund to tackle poverty in the least developed regions of Europe. "We have a specific interest in such an idea, because Bulgaria is the poorest region in the EU", said Ms Tsacheva.
The meeting was attended by the Head of the EESC President's Private Office Nikos Alexopoulos, who served as Deputy Secretary-General of the Committee and headed various departments at the EESC.
The national Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria awarded the EESC President with a badge of honour for his contribution to the development of organised civil society in Bulgaria. The President of the Bulgarian ESC Dr. Dulevski said: "The award, which I give you, on behalf of the ESC, it is on behalf the people who stand firmly behind civil society in Bulgaria and it is their esteem of you, Mr Dassis. We appreciate that your first official visit in your capacity as President of the EESC is precisely in Bulgaria."
In response, George Dassis said: "I have very close links with Bulgarian society, which began far back in my collaboration with your trade unions. My first official visit is here, because I think that today the situation is not easy for developing civil dialogue and there is a need to support the active position of the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria, which is certainly constructive and specific. I wholeheartedly thank you for the prize."
A meeting with members of the Bulgarian ESC approved the idea that the EESC, together with Bulgarian Council, should initiate an international public discussion on the future role of Bulgaria in the EU and euro area.
The official visit of the EESC President George Dassis began earlier in the morning with a visit to the Bulgarian National Bank, where, together with Prof. Dr. Lalko Dulevski he met with BNB Deputy Governor Kalin Hristov. Mr Dassis also visited the museum of banknotes and coins in the BNB.
The programme of the visit of the EESC President included a meeting on 15 January with the Deputy Prime Minister on demographic and social policy and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Mr Ivaylo Kalfin, where they discussed possible EU policies to fight poverty and had a debate on demography and social entrepreneurs. He also visited the University of National and World Economy (UNWE).
Finally, later on that day, Georges Dassis met with the presidents of the Bulgarian Trade Unions and members of the European Economic and Social Committee, Mr Plamen Dimitrov and Mr Dimitar Manolov.