On November 23, 2023, the international conference "United Europe - a path to economic security and sustainable integration" was held in Ruse, organized by the Ministry of Economy and Industry of Bulgaria and the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism of Romania, with the support of the Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The event was officially opened by the Minister of Economy and Industry of Bulgaria, Mr. Bogdan Bogdanov, and the Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism of Romania, Mr. Stefan-Radu Opria. Before the start of the forum, the two ministers met at the Danube Bridge to discuss the logistical challenges facing businesses at the border.
The conference was held in the "Europe" hall of the Revenue Building in Ruse, bringing together leading economic experts, investors, representatives of foreign and local businesses, as well as chambers of commerce from both countries. Among those present were MEPs, representatives of the diplomatic corps, local authorities, including the mayor of Ruse, Mr. Pencho Milkov, and the regional governor, Mr. Danail Kovachev.
The focus of the event was on the upcoming admission of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area. Particular attention was paid to the ongoing discussions surrounding the refusal of Austria and the Netherlands to support our membership, as well as the likelihood of another delay, which appears critical in the context of the need for our rapid accession. Issues and challenges facing businesses as a result of continued border controls and delivery delays were also addressed, particularly in the automotive sector where systems such as just-in-time are essential.
During the forum, Mr. Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, delivered a speech in the panel on good economic practices and major losses for the region, emphasizing the importance of Schengen admission for economic development and strengthening of bilateral relations.
The Ambassador of Austria, Her Excellency Mrs. Andrea Ikic-Böhm, presented the opinion of the Austrian government, according to which their refusal was mainly related to the problems in the Schengen system and the temporary introduction of border controls between some Schengen countries, and not to a specific refusal against Bulgaria and Romania. On the other hand, the representative of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Mr. Christian Mandl, and the commercial counselor at the Embassy of Austria and head of Advantage Austria in Bulgaria, Mr. Philip Kupfer, stated the firm support of Austrian business for the acceptance of both countries in the key European area.
The conference proved to be a productive platform for the exchange of ideas and experience, which will contribute to the further development and strengthening of economic relations between Bulgaria and Romania. We thank everyone present for their valuable participation and commitment.