Bulgaria's no-confidence vote could hamper EU expansion

He has pushed for a resolution to a bilateral ethno-cultural dispute that has blocked North Macedonia and Albanias bids to join the EU.Russias invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has prompted the EU to consider speeding up its membership drive in the Western Balkans to prevent Moscow from expanding its influence in the region.Bulgarian President Rumen Radev can either install a caretaker government or call an early parliamentary election, which would be the countrys fourth in a little more than a year.The European Commission made repeated promises that the future of six countries in the Western Balkans within the EU.


PTI | Sofia | Updated: 22-06-2022 22:42 IST | Created: 22-06-2022 22:42 IST
Bulgaria's no-confidence vote could hamper EU expansion
  • Country:
  • Bulgaria

Lawmakers in Bulgaria have approved a no-confidence motion against the country's coalition government that could topple the centrist prime minister and further stall efforts by Balkan countries to join the European Union.

The centre-right opposition party GERB filed the motion last week, accusing the government of mishandling public finances and economic policy and failing to tackle rising inflation.

The no-confidence vote passed 123-116 with no abstentions.

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, a Harvard-educated businessman, formed a four-party coalition government in December. He has pushed for a resolution to a bilateral ethno-cultural dispute that has blocked North Macedonia and Albania's bids to join the EU.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has prompted the EU to consider speeding up its membership drive in the Western Balkans to prevent Moscow from expanding its influence in the region.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev can either install a caretaker government or call an early parliamentary election, which would be the country's fourth in a little more than a year.

The European Commission made repeated promises that the future of six countries in the Western Balkans within the EU. Along with North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia have seen delays amid divisions among member countries and some bilateral issues.

France, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said it is making last-ditch efforts to clear the path before a Western Balkans summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Clement Beaune, the French minister for European affairs, said the proximity of the war in Ukraine has put the onus on the 27-nation EU to “reinvigorate” its expansion process in the Balkans.

He said the French government has “activated and reactivated talks” with both North Macedonia and Bulgaria, as well as other EU members.

“I have a hope that we will succeed, but work remains to be done,'' Beaune said.

Delegations from Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania plan to take part in the EU-Western Balkans summit jointly, a show of regional cooperation following their Open Balkan initiative aimed at easing regional trade and other issues.

The “decision to participate in the summit and approach it jointly is another step toward progress of our countries, but also a clear signal that despite numerous obstacles, we continue to constructively contribute on the road of Euro-integration,” a statement from the office of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.

Vucic previously said the leaders of the three countries might boycott the summit, apparently because of the lack of progress in their EU membership applications.

Daniel Smilov, a political science professor at the University of Sofia, said that Petkov, Bulgaria's prime minister, has been a “driving force” in pushing for a resolution to the dispute with North Macedonia and that a collapse of his government could blunt that effort.

“It's quite unfortunate for the North Macedonia situation because simply we don't have a stable majority now in parliament to give the green light to an agreement,” he said. “And the French presidency has come up with a very reasonable deal.” The French deal, which has not officially been made available to the public, was sent to both countries last week.

Bulgaria held three general elections last year. Should the government fall after Wednesday's vote, it might need to hold its forth election in a little more than a year.

Petkov's coalition, which was formed in December, promised to clean up rampant corruption in the country.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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