|Rumen Radev (Independent, from January 2017)
Boiko Borisov (centre-right GERB party, re-elected in March 2017)
|Size||110,994 km2 (42,823 sq miles)|
|MEPs||17 (joined the EU in 2007)|
|Next legislative election||2021|
|Presidency of the Council||January-June 2018|
|Last meeting with Theresa May||None held to date|
|Brexit priorities||The Bulgarian Government wants to move ahead on adopting the euro and join the EU’s visa-free travel regime. In its bid to come closer to the EU’s establishment, it is expected Borisov will mostly fall in line behind his German ally Angela Merkel in the Brexit negotiations. The Bulgarians fear that these negotiations will see smaller, younger member states lose influence in the EU in future, as core member states come closer together.
Bulgaria’s main priority is to secure the rights of citizens living in the UK. The estimated amount of Bulgarians currently residing in Britain is 60.000 people, a small community compared to Eastern allies of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic). There are, however, also some 7.000 Britons living in Bulgaria, most of which are pensioners and retirees and people who have invested in (holiday) homes. Therefore, the reciprocal rights of EU/UK citizens will be the most crucial point for Bulgaria.
Economically speaking, Brexit will not be very high on Bulgaria’s agenda, as 3 percent of Bulgarian exports are shipped to the UK.
|What Mr Borisov said on Brexit
|The UK’s decision to exit the European Union marks “a bad day for Europe.”
“I respect the choice of their people, although from now on it [the people] will be severely split.”
“From now on the EU must show that it can do without Britain […] and we have to start thinking about Europe without them. Any negotiations about a special status should not be held because they will break the union apart.”
“When the EU is weaker, you see how the markets react […] the pound is falling. Hence, there will be consequences for everyone.”
|Bulgaria’s priorities||The new Bulgarian Government seeks political stability following the elections of March 2017. Borisov’s party GERB came in first with 32.63 percent of votes, which meant it did not secure a majority. GERB has teamed up with United Patriots (UP), an alliance of three nationalist parties for a coalition.
GERB and UP have agreed to raise the minimum state pension, increase the monthly wage by 50%, boost economic growth and maintain income and corporate taxes, while keeping the currency tied to the euro until Bulgaria joins the common currency zone.
The new Bulgarian President wants the EU to drop its sanctions on Russia as it seeks closer ties with Moscow.
Bulgaria is the EU’s poorest country and the Government has been heavily criticised for its lack of action in tackling poverty and corruption.
Another Bulgarian priority is to block the EU’s resettlement plans for refugees.
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