On January 1, when the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU officially started, the Russian TASS Agency reported that according to Minister Liliana Pavlova who is responsible for the presidency, Bulgaria had planned to raise the issue of lifting EU sanctions against Russia. Immediately on January 2 in an interview with the Bulgarian National Television, Pavlova denied having said such a thing, specifying that the Russian agency repeated a wrong interpretation of her words from October last year, which was rebutted back then. In early October, asked by a TASS journalist whether sanctions against Russia would be discussed during the Bulgarian presidency, Pavlova replied that various formats of the EU Council will be analyzing the consequences of measures imposed by Brussels, while TASS released information that Bulgaria would be seeking reconsidering the sanctions.
Republishing the erroneous interpretation from October was defined by the 24-Hours daily newspaper as a "hybrid attack from Russia because of the sanctions." The paper, as well as other media, recall Sofia's long-standing position that the EU could lift sanctions against Russia if it kept to the agreements on non-interference in Ukraine and not supporting the separatists from Donetsk and Lugansk. European leaders will decide whether sanctions would continue or not by July 30 and the Bulgarian presidency ends on July 1st.
Under the heading "Hot Potatoes for handling during Bulgaria’s EU Presidency", Mediapool reports that key decisions to be made during the Bulgarian EU Presidency are defining the EU budget for the period 2021-2027, the continuation of Brexit negotiations, changes in migration policy and migrant reception quotas, as well as legislation related to the Energy Union in Europe. In the budget discussions, Bulgaria will try to keep the funds for the poorest countries, which means that it would rather try to direct the debate towards increasing contributions to the general budget. In discussions over reforms in the migration policy, the Bulgarian Presidency will be seeking a compromise solution over relocation of migrants between the EC and Germany, on the one hand, and on the other - the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, who are willing to pay more money but not to accept migrants. Concerning Brexit negotiations, the main goal of the Bulgarian presidency will be preserving the unity of EU Member States in order for negotiations with the UK over Brexit to be joint and not individual for each Member State.
When it comes to the Energy Union, the main goal will be adopting regulations proposed by the European Commission aimed at diversifying energy supplies, building new gas distribution hubs, adopting more ambitious targets for reducing pollution and addressing climate change. After all, according to Mediapool, the main challenge for reaching a consensus on controversial issues will lie on the shoulders of working groups of Bulgarian experts from the EU Council, as well as on the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Bulgaria to the European Union, Dimitar Tzanchev, who participates in the ambassadors' committee of the EU Member States. The aim at these levels will be reaching an agreement among Member States before the controversial issues are discussed at EU Council level.
English: Alexander Markov