The UK is firmly committed to Bulgaria 's accession to the EU as soon as possible and strongly supports the associated process of reform. Britain looks forward to the day when Bulgaria takes its place alongside other members of the Union . This Action Plan sets out a range of practical UK initiatives to further these shared goals over the next year. It has been drawn up in conjunction with the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It brings together the work of the UK Government as a whole. The plan was launched by the former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, and the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Mrs Mihailova, in London on 6 March 2001 .
The UK already supports Bulgaria 's progress towards EU accession through its contribution to the EU's policy instruments including Phare, SAPARD and ISPA. This Action Plan is designed to complement the Accession Partnership (December 1999) and the Bulgarian National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis.
The United Kingdom strongly supports the enlargement of the European Union, which it believes is the biggest and most important challenge facing the EU over the next 5 years. This will allow our continent to be re-united, after the long decades of artificial division imposed by the Soviet Union . It will thus be an enormous contribution to the stability, security and prosperity of Europe as a whole. Enlarging the Single Market to include over 500 million consumers will provide new opportunities to businesses throughout Europe ; and increase the choices open to consumers. Tackling trans-border issues such as crime and environmental population together is the only way to achieve success: EU Enlargement will allow us to do this much more effectively. For the United Kingdom , the enlargement of the European Union is not a luxury - it is essential, if we are to make real the dreams of those who believed in a united Europe emerging from the rubble of the Second World War.
Bulgaria is making good progress towards a dynamic market economy. Macroeconomic stability has been maintained through the implementation of sound monetary and fiscal policies under the Currency Board. Against this positive backdrop, the UK Government is ready to contribute in the following areas:
Commercial relations between the two countries will be vigorously developed, on the basis of transparency and open markets. Two-way trade and investment will be actively encouraged through a programme of events, including:
The UK has regular high level exchanges with Bulgaria as a prospective member of the EU and NATO on CFSP issues. The UK will intensify this dialogue and exchange experiences. We welcome Bulgaria 's contribution to the work of the Stability Pact and to the 'Europeanisation' of the region, where the UK will continue it's active programme of activities.
The Bulgarian Government is determined to address public concern about crime, to support the strengthening of the judiciary and to tackle the problem of corruption at all levels in society. The UK Government proposes to contribute through:
Following the successful visit of the UK Anti Drugs Coordinator, Mr Keith Hellawell, the UK has increased its cooperation with Bulgaria in the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime. Building on the successes which Bulgaria has achieved in the last two years, the UK will:
The UK will fund a high-level Wilton Park/European Institute Conference in Sofia in March 2002 focusing on EU Enlargement and South Eastern Europe .
The European Commission has already judged that Bulgaria meets the Copenhagen political criteria. Britain is keen to help the Bulgarian government in its efforts to make further concrete progress in implementing the Roma Framework Programme; and to establish institutions which will work to maximise the opportunities available to the Roma community and to tackle the difficulties faced by Roma in every area of life. Projects include:
The British Government will continue to support the Bulgarian government in implementing its new child care policy, based on the new Children's Act. Working in close coordination with other donors, in particular the EU and World Bank, the UK will:
The UK supports the Bulgarian government, both local and central, in its commitment to creating a public administration capable of preparing Bulgaria to meet the obligations of EU membership. Areas of cooperation include:
Bulgaria is blessed with large tracts of beautiful and unspoilt countryside. But it faces the major task of bringing its environmental protection practice up to EU standards. The UK will work with the Bulgarian government to achieve their goal of mutually reinforcing agricultural and environmental policies which are EU compliant:
The UK and Bulgaria signed an agreement on Education and Culture in 2001 to continue the long term programme of cultural events and exchanges between both countries.
The British Council will maintain its high profile in Bulgaria . Its move to new premises will enable it to promote best practice in English Language Teaching to assist the continuing improvement of English language in schools. The Council also operates the well known 'European Young Lawyers Scheme'.
The 'Chevening Scholarships' programme is well regarded in Bulgaria . We will continue to use the funds available to target priority areas for Bulgaria in terms of EU accession, in particular by offering two scholarships per year to attend the University of Sussex DICES course.
The Bulgarian Parliament faces the challenge of handling a significant amount of legislation in order to make its laws EU compliant. It will also need to develop its own approach to scrutinising EU business. The UK is keen to share its experience with Bulgaria in these areas and will encourage further links between the relevant UK committees and their Bulgarian counterparts.
In addition to the existing five British Pre-Accession Advisers, we will seek out new counterparts for the Phare 2001 Twinning Programme and consider projects in other related areas e.g. encouraging links between the Cabinet Office in London and the Council of Ministers in Sofia .
This Action Plan provides the basis for ongoing cooperation between the UK and Bulgaria . It will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.
Source: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
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