THE BLOG

Bulgaria: Why It Matters to You

23/07/2013 14:58 BST | Updated 22/09/2013 10:12 BST

For more than a month, every day, tens of thousands of Bulgarians have taken to their streets protesting against a discredited government acting counter to the interest of its people.

Scratch the surface and this distant, seemingly abstract, revolution on the EU's Eastern-most edge suddenly becomes relevant to citizens and taxpayers of all European nations.

A little girl protesting with the Bulgarian flag. Photo by Vera Gotseva

(Photo copyright Vera Gotseva)

EU Payments

Britain, just like Germany, Italy and France, is a net contributor to the budget of the European Union. Latest available figures show that, per head of population, we give just over €75 each more to Europe than we receive.

Bulgaria, like all recent entrants to the EU, is a net recipient from the European budget at just over €100 per head of population. Put to good use, this money is a vital tool in developing the country into a competitive European economy. In the wrong hands, this money is just lost.

This matters to you because every day we turn a blind eye to the situation in Bulgaria, more of your tax money is wasted through the kind of mismanagement which achieves anything but domestic and European objectives.

Immigration vs. Emigration

Two words which often get confused are Immigration and Emigration. The same confusion exists in Britain's immigration issue with Eastern-Europe: It's actually Bulgaria's emigration problem.

Bulgaria has the potential to offer the same European-level quality of life currently available in the country's IT industry across dozens of sectors throughout the country. Education and economic reform coupled with transparent access to information under effective leadership could unlock this potential in less than a decade.

Developing a country within the European Union should be about understanding and addressing its local needs and not cookie-cutter box-ticking which tolerates bureaucracy and empowers institutional mismanagement.

This matters to you because if Bulgaria had a functioning government which used the resources available with the aim of creating a better future for itself, that immigration issue would no longer exist.

Direct Democracy

The mass protests across Bulgaria stand out from the civil unrest currently sweeping the world: they are thankfully non-violent; goal-based (rather than cause-based such as the Occupy movement) and they are have a form of decentralised leadership.

This makes them a perfect case study for direct, fluid, democracy. Initiatives ranging from the significant to the seemingly trivial are proposed, sparked and adopted by the group via social networks: fast, meritocratic & simple.

This matters to you because we've entered an age when people can come together in large numbers in a matter of hours. What's not yet clear is 'what happens next' - how to convert that energy into lasting change. Following the events as they evolve in Bulgaria may give some invaluable insight into the future of our political process.

Two girls protesting in Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo by Vera Gotseva

(Photo copyright Vera Gotseva: "Don't give in to provocation")