At the beginning of January 2018, a new country took charge of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU for the very first time in its history.
Ten years after joining the EU, Bulgaria, the poorest country in the bloc, has been given the opportunity to take centre stage and guide the policy agenda for the next six months.
The country's ministers will have the chance to chair key Council meetings covering a range of essential policy areas, as well as mediating between member states and producing compromise texts. It will also be responsible for negotiating with the European Parliament and European Commission at Trilogue meetings.
Aiming to promote solidarity between member states, the Bulgarian Presidency has also set out four key priorities for its time in office:
- The future of Europe and young people
- Security and stability
- The digital economy and future skills
- Links with the Western Balkans
Speaking to DeHavilland EU, Bulgarian MEPs outlined some of the key issues they expect to dominate their time at the helm of the Council. In addition to articulating a strong regional perspective on issues such as energy, several raised their concerns about the impact of Brexit on overall perceptions of EU affairs. They also referenced Bulgaria's eagerness to demonstrate its leadership credentials in this key pan-European forum.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has been clear about his ambitions for regional neighbours to accede to EU membership, and the nation also harbours aspirations towards Euro membership - a goal that could receive a boost from the imminent deadline for agreeing reforms to the economic and monetary bloc.
Meanwhile, the nation will also face the challenge of ensuring continued unity between member states in the face of the Phase Two Brexit negotiations.
Read our full Bulgarian Presidency Briefing today
To learn more about the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU from January to June 2018, you can read DeHavilland EU's special in-depth briefing. The briefing contains full accounts of key policy challenges, profiles of key ministers and original interviews with high-profile political figures.
As News Assistant, Alex provides support to DeHavilland and DeHavilland EU's Newsdesk functions. His duties include writing reports on live Parliamentary proceedings, managing DeHavilland's unique content sourcing mix, and maintaining the PeoplePoint database of political contacts.