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20.07.2017

imageIt is often assumed that Bulgarians met the entry in the EU with high expectations and enthusiasm, which however immediately started to dissipate and cool off following a steady downward trend. But data shows a different dynamic. It seems that initially EU membership was met with a dose of realism (or skepticism), which was followed by a period of positive experience and higher esteem and only after that rise in negative attitudes was registered. This brief, which is part of the “10 Years in the EU” series of OSI-Sofia in regard to one decade of EU membership of Bulgaria, outlines public attitudes in the period 2008-2016 on a number of issues, including: assessment of EU membership support to membership in a “referendum”, trust in Bulgarian and European institutions, advantages of European integration, support to anti-EU parties, membership in the Eurozone and Schengen, social and demographic profile of the respondents.
 
16 June 2017

imageOn 15 June 2017, the EU abolished the roaming charges for its citizens travelling in another member state. The abolishment of roaming took very long time and was preceded by a number of intermediary steps through the years. But the decrease in charges and the dropping of roaming is just one small part of the changes that occurred in telecommunications after the entry of Bulgaria in the EU. The roaming is just the tip of the iceberg. Georgi Angelov, Senior Economist, analyses the policy and consequences for Bulgaria. This policy brief is part of the “10 Years in the EU” series of the Open Society Institute – Sofia in regard to a decade of EU membership of Bulgaria.

 
09.05.2017

imageThe convergence of the newer EU member states with their older counterparts is on track. The multi-year comparison with previous data shows a trajectory of catching-up. At the same time, the progress is not evenly spread as some countries stagnate and others regress. There is a particular risk of growing gaps between the Balkan countries and the rest of the continent. The report “Don’t Stop Now: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index 2016”  is based on the sixth edition of the index (www.TheCatchUpIndex.eu), which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries – the EU member states, the candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
 
28.03.2017

imageOn March 26, 2017 Bulgaria held snap elections and five parties managed to get over the 4% threshold. The elections took place after PM Boyko Borissov of GERB resigned in November 2016 after his candidate lost the presidential elections to the rival BSP.
The center-right GERB won the vote with 32.66%. The center-left Bulgarian Socialist Party came second with 27.19%. The nationalist parties, gathered in the United Patriots coalition, came in third with 9.07% of the votes. The Turkish-minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) is forth with 8.99%. The newly formed populist Volya (Will) of tycoon Vesselin Mareshki managed to get 4.15%, building popularity on discount medicines and gasoline. Some 2.50% of people chose the option “I don’t support anyone” on the ballot. A new EuPI policy brief looks at the results.

 
16.11.2016
image On November 13th, Bulgarians elected their fifth president since the 1990. Rumen Radev, a retired Airforce general, won nearly 60% of the vote compared to 36% of his opponent of the ruling party GERB. The international press noticed the elections mostly in the context of victories of perceived pro-Russian candidates, including in nearby Moldova. But in Bulgaria, the reality is more complicated and the presidential elections were accompanied by two major other events: a referendum that may change substantially the election system as well as resignation of the government with an ensuing political crisis. A new policy brief looks at the recent political developments in Bulgaria.
 

05.10.2016
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Bulgaria: Supporting further cohesion” by Marin Lessenski  is an essay on Bulgaria’s membership in the EU. It is part of the "Keeping Europeans together" collection of essays from the EU 28 member states, which reflect on the diversity of European cohesion.
The publication of the European Council on Foreign Relations (www.ecfr.eu) provides the national context and personal assessments of the state of cohesion from representatives of the EU member states.      
 
03.05.2016

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The publication "Don't Panic: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index 2015" contains the main results of the new edition of the index. The index measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators. There are five editions of the index since 2011, which provides the opportunity to identify trends and patterns in the process of development of individual countries, groups of countries and categories of the index. The index is created and maintained by the OpenSociety Institute – Sofia (www.osi.bg) and is available at
www.TheCatchUpIndex.eu - on online interactive platform, where users can operate with the data. The index was offically launched at OSI-Sofia event with the kind assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (read more here)
 
27.04.2016

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The Open Society Institute - Sofia, with the kind assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organized a discussion on  „The Catch-Up Index: Are the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe Catching-up Successfully with the Rest of the EU?” with the participation of political and social scientists, economists and diplomats, with a new edition of the index available online at www.TheCatchUpIndex.eu .

 
27.07.2015

imageA new publication of the European Policy Center in Brussels (www.epc.eu) provides a comprehensive overview of the EU enlargement process from the perspective of its member states. "EU member states and enlargement towards the Balkans" is edited by Rosa Balfour and Corina Stratulat" (EPC Issue Paper NO. 79, July 2015). It contains 17 case studies and 2 theoretical chapters. EuPI's Marin Lessenski contributed to the publication with an outlook from Bulgaria (pp.143-154). The EPC presentation of the publication says that "The European Union’s enlargement to the Balkans seems to be running on autopilot since Croatia’s accession in 2013 and amidst the on-going crisis. While the region still has a clear European perspective, progress on the dossier has been marred not just by outstanding challenges in individual Balkan countries but often also by hurdles which develop within the Union – more specifically in the member states.

 
08.05.2015

imageIn 2015, the vast majority of Bulgarians – 64,4% - continue to assess positively the EU membership of their country. About a fifth of respondents – 21,8% - assess the experience as negative. The trends have remained unchanged over the last three years with a very slight improvement in 2015 over 2014. This are some of the findings of a new EuPI policy brief, based on a survey conducted and financed by OSI-Sofia. The survey registers the attitudes of Bulgarian citizens about EU membership itself, key aspects of the membership process and key projects for the further integration into the EU such as Schengen and the Eurozone.
 
Projects
In Focus
1 million Bulgarians live in other EU countries. As European citizens, they have the right to vote and to be elected in the European Parliament elections in any other EU country.The “Vote Abroad” campaign is aimed at informing the Bulgarian citizens living abroad or in Bulgaria about the European Parliament elections (22 to 25 May 2014) on when, where and how to vote.
There is more information and updates on the interactive web-site and social media:
http://BulgariaIn.EU
https://www.facebook.com/BulgariaIn.EU
https://twitter.com/BulgariaInEU
Is Europe becoming a less cultural continent? The findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on cultural access and participation – the first on the topic since 2007 – suggest this may be the case.Although there are marked differences between Member States, in general fewer Europeans are engaging in cultural activities, as performers or spectators. The decline in participation has affected all cultural activities except cinema.
Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union at midnight Sunday (1 July), a decade after it started the process and less than 20 years after the end of its war of independence from Yugoslavia. The expansion comes at a difficult time for both the EU and Croatia (Photo: MLKR) Thousands lined the streets of the capital Zagreb to the sound of Beethoven's Ode to Joy and fireworks as the country's leaders accompanied by EU officials celebrated the event. Read it at EUObserver
Civic protests against the appointment of a controversial tycoon as head of Bulgaria’s major security agency started on June 14, 2013. A number of NGOs, OSI-Sofia among them, requested the government to revoke its decision and abide to the lawful procedures. The protests continued in defiance to the oligarchic control in the country, despite desperate measures by the government and the parties that support it.
The Guardian published an article by Ivan Krastev on January 16, 2013 about the alleged threat of Bulgarians and Romanians. Ivan Krastev debunks the myths by using OSI-Sofia study on migration, saying "There is no data suggesting that Bulgarian benefit tourists are coming to flood Britain, nor is there an indication that the Bulgarian government or media are trying to export their social problems by encouraging the poorest groups in Bulgarian society to take the plane to London.”
An article about Bulgaria in the print edition of the Economist quoted a study by OSI-Sofia on public attitudes. The article “In a rough region” from July 7, 2012 edition, with the subtitle “Once Bulgaria hoped to be like Greece; now it just hopes to survive” covers the state of Bulgaria’s economy, politics and society in mid-2012. You can read
the article here
EuPI’s Marin Lessenski was featured in Financial Times Deutchland in an article about the effects of the Greek crisis on the Balkan countries. The article “Osteuropa zittert vor der Drachme” by Hubert Beyerle, published on 01.06.2012 is available here.
The op-ed “Defining threats beyond the eurozone crisis” features the Catch-Up Index on Euractiv "Europe's economic and financial challenges are not the ultimate or even the defining threat to the European project, says Marin Lessenski, author of a new report published by the European Policies Initiative and Open Society Institute in Sofia." You can read the full op-ed in the Euractiv "Opinion" section here
As Bulgaria and Romania are looking to resolving the impasse to their Schengen membership bid in 2011, an EuPI policy brief released in June illuminates the broader context and challenges to Schengen transformation and enlargement. The brief sheds a light on the facts and common (mis)conceptions about Schengen’s accession of the two new EU members. The brief also touches upon the changes in the thinking and policy planning in the EU following the critical transformations in its southern neighborhood. You can download the policy brief here  
"Challenges to the New Programming of EU funds in Bulgaria after 2013 Based on the Analysis of the Experience in 2007 to 2013"   is a new report by the European Policies and Civic Participation program of OSI-Sofia.
Publications
imageThe publication contains the findings of the new edition of the Catch-Up Index. The index measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators. There are five editions of the index since 2011, which provides the opportunity to identify trends and patterns in the process of development of individual countries, groups of countries and categories of the index.
The index is created and maintained by the OpenSociety Institute – Sofia and is available at
www.TheCatchUpIndex.eu .
The report “The Gravity Effect: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index 2014” (Index 2014), presents the findings of the fourth edition of the European Catch-Up index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
The report “It’s a Process: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index” (Index 2013), presents the findings of the third edition of the European Catch-Up index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
The report “Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe?” (Index 2012), presents the findings of the second edition of the European Catch-Up index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries –EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, using 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
The European Catch-Up Index The new European Catch-Up Index redefines the current notions about the state of the EU, Europe and the economic crisis by analyzing the performance of 35 countries in Economy, Democracy, Governance and Quality of Life.
A series of monitoring reports on the progress of Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to join Schengen were prepared and released in October 2010 and February 2011 in cooperation with the Romanian Center for European Policies (CRPE).
23.07.2009

“The Unfinished Business of the Fifth Enlargement Countries” analyzes the problems faced by the ten new member states after their accession to the EU in eleven policy areas including political development, the economy, the healthcare system and education.
EuPI has released a series of reports within the project "The EU New Member States as Agenda Setters in the Enlarged European Union", with the "Not Your Grandfather’s Eastern Bloc" comparative policy report.
EuPI has contributed to a major report on EU-Russia relations by ECFR's Mark Leonard and Nicu Popescu

2008 European Policies Initiative

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