Schengen, Eurozone Membership and Public Opinion in Bulgaria
The Schengen agreement and the Eurozone are considered two cornerstones of the European integration project. Recently, the Eurozone is viewed as the building block for further EU integration, where the countries will be divided into the inner tier of Eurozone members and another tier of those outside it.
Bulgaria is still aspiring to enter both Schengen and the Eurozone. Until few years the country had these as top priorities and even came close to entry by meeting the technical criteria for Schengen membership in 2011 (please, see EuPI Policy Brief No32/June 2011 for more information) and getting ready to enter ERM II as the necessary step for the Eurozone. However, the country did not make it and for different reasons the two goals were silently taken off the priority list of Bulgaria in hopes there would be better times and opportune moments.
South Stream and EU Sanctions against Russia:
A new EuPI policy brief highlights public attitudes in Bulgaria towards two topical issues in the country and the EU: the South Stream gas pipeline and the EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. In regard to South Stream the favored option for South Stream appears to be construction with the consent of the EU after conforming to EUs rules with over 28,2% and is most favored among center-right supporters. The option of continuing with South Stream despite EU criticism and possible penalties is favored by 22% of respondents. In regard to EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, the largest share of respondents does not support any sanctions against any state with 40% and this view is identical among nearly all party groups (around 40% across the board).
EU Membership and the Public Opinion in Bulgaria in 2014
The majority of 62,4% Bulgarians assess positively EU membership. But there is a decrease of 6% in positive views compared to 2013 and the negative assessments rise to 23,2% according to a new EuPI policy brief on attitudes of Bulgarians toward EU membership, based on an opinion poll of OSI-Sofia. Similarly, support to EU membership remains high at 62,5%, but there is a decrease of nearly 7% in comparison to 2013; Those who would not support EU membership increase slightly to 20%.
Stop Targeting Hungarian NGOs!
Since its re-election, the Hungarian government launched a campaign attacking the credibility of Hungarian NGOs and are striving to gain controlling power over their funding distributed independently from the government.
We believe that a dynamic and independent civil society plays a fundamental role in a democratic society, as it is one of the key checks and balances to governing power.
We stand in solidarity with the Hungarian NGOs and call on the Hungarian and all other governments to refrain from harassing civil society!
The New European Catch-Up Index Report
The new edition of the European Catch-Up Index has been published for a third consecutive year with the report "Its a Process: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index". The 2013 edition of the European Catch-Up Index offers again its alternative perspective of looking at Europe and presents information for further exploration and deliberation. And as there are three editions of the index, there is already enough comparable data to identify trends.
Roma Fellowship Program in Bulgaria: Bridging Roma and Career Opportunities
The United States Embassy in Sofia in conjunction with Open Society Institute - Sofia is happy to announce a round of applications for five internship positions in the Embassy in the summer of 2014.
The Roma Fellowship Program is open to Roma Bulgarians who are either enrolled at a university or have recently graduated. Depending on their specific choice of career, academic interests, and skills, the fellows will be placed in one of five sections (see below position descriptions) in the Embassy for a period of ten weeks, starting at the end of June.
Integration policies: Who benefits?
Open Society Institute - Sofia is a partner of the project "Integration policies: Who benefits? The development and use of indicators in integration debates" (MIPEX 2015) led by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), and the Migration Policy Group (MPG). The project aims to inform and engage key policy actors about how to use indicators to improve integration governance and policy effectiveness.
Second Open Call for Proposals under
the NGO Programme in Bulgaria launched
OSI Sofia Continues the Implementation of
Open Society Institute Sofia continues the implementation of "Medics of tomorrow" scholarship program in 2013 2014 academic year. The program provides support to Roma university students (at risk of drop out) in medical disciplines to maintain their studies and to contribute to the development of new generation of medical specialists willing to work for their own community.
Hate Speech Inspires a Feeling of Violence
"Hate speech is widespread in the Bulgarian society, at that in its most severe form one that encourages violence and evokes a feeling of menace in the minorities". This is what Ivanka Ivanova, Legal Program Director of Open Society Institute - Sofia, said during the "Hate Speech and the Role of Society" Conference. According to data of a national representative study of the Institute, cited by Mrs. Ivanova, the main minorities object of speech hate are the Roma, ethnic Turks and sexual minorities.
Public Attitudes towards Hate Speech in Bulgaria
Hate speech is a widespread phenomenon in Bulgarian public life. In the last year nearly half of the Bulgarian citizens (45.6%) have witnessed statements expressing disapproval of, hatred or aggression against representatives of ethnic, religious or sexual minorities. These statements were predominantly aimed at Roma, Turks and homosexuals. This is what the data from a representative study, carried out by Open Society Institute Sofia in July this year, reveal. The data were presented to the participants in the "Hate Speech and the Role of Civil Society" Conference, organized within the second annual meeting of NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism.
"Hate Speech and the Role of Civil Society" Conference
Hate speech is a widespread phenomenon in Bulgarian public life. In the last year nearly half of the Bulgarian citizens (45.6%) have witnessed statements expressing disapproval of, hatred or aggression against representatives of ethnic, religious or sexual minorities. Meanwhile one third of the citizens are not aware that hate speech is a crime. Hate speech is mainly spread by means of television, and its main speakers are politicians.
These data come from a representative study of Open Society Institute Sofia and shall be presented within the conference "Hate Speech and the Role of Civil Society".
"Yes, I Do": Bulgarians Remain Most Faithful to the EU"
According to a recent survey of OSI-Sofia from July 2013, 68.4% of Bulgarians have positive attitudes towards membership in the European Union and over 81.1% would reaffirm their support to EU entry if the issue were put to the vote today. The analysis of data shows that:
Roma Fellowship Program in Bulgaria:
The United States Embassy in Sofia in conjunction with Open Society Institute - Sofia is happy to announce a round of applications for four internship positions in the Embassy in the summer of 2013.
The Roma Fellowship Program is open to Roma Bulgarians who are either enrolled at a university or have recently graduated. Depending on their specific choice of career, academic interests, and skills, the fellows will be placed in one of four sections in the Embassy for a period of ten weeks, starting at the end of June.
Combating Hate Speech Online
The EEA and Norway Grants have entered into a strategic partnership with the Council of Europe to promote tolerance and fundamental rights. Activities countering hatred are encouraged through the EEA NGO programmes.
During the last few years we have registered continued and renewed violations of fundamental rights, including physical and verbal attacks on minority groups, migrants, and on organisations defending human rights in Europe.
To address these concerns, the EEA and Norway Grants have joined forces with the Council of Europe and support the No Hate Speech Movement. This campaign against hate speech online starts on 22 March 2013 and will run through to 2014.
Is There a Threat of Bulgarian Migration Influx to the UK?
Bulgaria and Romania entered international news in the past month as British politicians and popular media started to worry about influx of Bulgarian migrants after 2014. After January 1, 2014 Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will have full access to the labor market in the UK after the last transition periods barring them would have expired.
However, the concerns, heated debates and alleged fear were rarely, if at all, backed up by numbers and data. In order to fill in the gap of informed debate, OSI-Sofia has compiled highlights from its several studies on Bulgarias migration trends conducted over the years.
First Open Call for Proposals under the NGO Programme in Bulgaria launched
Programme operator OSI Sofia in partnership with Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation announces the First Open Call for Proposals for the NGO Programme for Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009 2014.
Eligible applicants will have two months to develop and submit project proposals in the following thematic areas: "Democracy, human rights and good governance", "Social inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable groups", "Sustainable development and protection of the environment", "Capacity building for NGOs". The text of the call and the detailed Guidelines for Applicants are published on the website of the Programme.
Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe?
The crisis has set in motion fundamental changes in Europe and the markings are already visible as registered by the findings of the new European Catch-Up Index, exposing and deepening divergences in Europe but at the same time creating new patterns of convergence and models of a "multispeed Europe".
The report "Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe?" is based on the second edition of the Catch-Up Index, 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, measured by 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
Bulgaria in the New European Catch-Up Index
Six years after its accession into the EU, Bulgaria continues to substantially lag behind in the process of catching-up with the more developed countries in Europe according to the new report on the findings of the new European Catch-Up Index. Bulgaria is at the bottom of the overall ranking among the EU member states as well as in the four categories of the index: Economy, Democracy, Quality of Life and Governance. In some indicators of Quality of Life, the country falls behind neighboring countries such as Serbia and Montenegro, which are still candidate countries.
The report "Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe", released in January 2013, is based on the second edition of the Catch-Up Index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries.
Workshop for Promotion of Partnership between
About 150 representatives of Bulgarian non-governmental organizations, together with representatives of 12 NGOs from Norway, took part in the bilateral workshop organized by the Open Society Institute in partnership with the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation. The workshop was conducted as part of the Annual Meeting for Sharing Good Practices on Partnership Development between Bulgarian NGOs and Organizations from the Donor States (Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland).
The participants in the workshop discussed possibilities for joint projects within the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. In the form of an open space discussion, they focused on possible partnerships under the four thematic areas of the Programme: Democracy, human rights and good governance; Social inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable groups; Sustainable development and protection of the environment; Capacity building for NGOs.
Minister Donchev: The State Has an Interest in an Active Civil Sector
"The state's deep interest lies in having a strong civil sector. The state could in no way do its best without an active control exerted by the third sector." This is what the EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev stated at the official launch of the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. Minister Donchev reminded that the funding from the donor states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) during the current programme period was increased almost six times as compared to the previous period. "I believe that by means of this funding we will bring more energy into the civil sector", he added.
"The NGO Programme will adhere to the authentic agenda of the civil sector and will not impose on it any alternative agendas", Georgi Stoychev, Executive Director of the Open Society Institute stated on his part.
Official Launch of the NGO Programme in Bulgaria
Representatives of more than 400 non-governmental organizations registered for participation in the official launch of the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. The total value of the Programme is 11 790 000 EUR provided by the donor states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The funds will be used to support non-governmental organizations with the aim of promoting environment enabling their work, strengthening their capacity, and enhancing their contribution to the attainment of social justice, democracy and sustainable development.
The Programme Operator the Open Society Institute Sofia in partnership with Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation has planned the organization of three open calls for project proposals in four thematic areas.