Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union BG

PRIME MINISTER BORISSOV: THE FORMAT "16 + 1" AIMS TO STRENGTHEN EUROPE

07.07.2018

The "16 + 1" format aims to strengthen Europe. We do not intend to divide the community as some fear. This was stated by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at the opening of the business forum, which takes place alongside the Seventh meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China, which this year is held in Sofia. According to him, today's initiative is useful for both EU Member States and the Western Balkan countries. "These meetings help us  catch up with the old EU member states faster. At those forums we find funding for projects for which EU funds do not suffice," said Borissov.

The Prime Minister noted that the Bulgarian priority for the region's perspective remains on the European agenda. "We have great opportunities. The Western Balkans cannot be viewed separately," Borissov said, highlighting that each connectivity project also affects the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. China has a very positive attitude to these processes, and each country has the opportunity to increase its GDP by building its transport, energy, and digital infrastructure," said Boyko Borissov. He added that when several countries unite around a project, its implementation could become much easier.

"If Europe is weakened, this will be bad news for China. Our country encourages the collective funding of projects and hopes to offer competitive projects on equal starting terms in line with European requirements." This was stated by the chairman of the State Council of China Li Keqiang during the forum. He stressed that the "16 + 1" door is also open for other EU countries and added that the Chinese side can take advantage of Bulgarian experience and Bulgarian agricultural products, as well as offer its own industrial products in the CEE countries. Li Keqiang emphasized that for China the opening of the market in the region is very important and it will work for the  reduction of import duties to promote global trade.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov welcomed the participation of representatives of the World Bank and the European Investment Bank in the business forum. The business forum today was attended by representatives of 1500 companies from China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.