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Mariya Gabriel: « Without stable Bulgarian government, no progress on vaccination and recovery »

While the Omicron variant is still rife in the EU, further weakening the education and cultural sectors, we welcome European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, in charge of these files. In this context, she is optimistic about the priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU in terms of culture and ensures that education is not forgotten, through the Erasmus+ programme. She also looks back on the health and political situation in her country, Bulgaria.

Presidency of the European Parliament

“We have lost a European leader, a defender of democracy, a man who defended European values ​​by his actions and not just by his words. And as far as I am concerned, we have lost a great friend of European culture”. It is in these terms that Mariya Gabriel pays tribute to the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, who died on January 11 when his term was about to end.

The new President of Parliament will be elected on January 18, and it is the Maltese Roberta Metsola, controversial for her stance against abortion, who seems to be best placed to take the sequel. Mariya Gabriel greets for her part “a woman who defends the rights of women” and is delighted that, if she is elected “for the third time only in the history of the European Parliament, a woman will be at the head of this institution”.

The EU to the rescue of culture and education

The Culture Commissioner is “extremely satisfied with the priorities of the French Presidency” in this area, because “culture is very high on the agenda”. She would therefore like to reassure European artists and players in the sector that the European institutions will continue to help them so that they can recover from the extremely negative impact of the health crisis. She also wishes « to highlight certain subjects which have not been discussed so often so far, such as the status of artists, and the need to see cultural projects in national recovery plans », and « counts on the presidency French ”to be vigilant.

The Commission is strengthening its support for creative and cultural partners through the 2022 Creative Europe work programme, around 385 million euros, i.e. almost 100 million more than in 2021. Mariya Gabriel is delighted with this allocation, but assures that “ that won’t be enough ”to relaunch the sector which, with the Omicron variant, has seen the return of gauges in the entertainment world. It is therefore, according to her, “important that the sector has an eye on other possibilities”, for example with the Horizon Europe programme, “the strongest program in the world for investment in research and innovation. , which for the first time will have a culture and creativity center with a budget of 2.1 billion euros ”. The Commissioner also calls on cultural stakeholders to connect to the CultuEU platform, launched a month ago “where in one place we have brought together all sources of funding for culture”.

The Education Commissioner also wishes to recall the importance of the Erasmus + program, “a real bridge between communities, between countries, which gives the possibility and the chance to live extremely enriching experiences” and one of its novelties that are virtual mobilities. However, she wishes to “reassure all participants that virtual mobility will never replace physical mobility, but it does not prevent blocking situations”.

Vaccination in Bulgaria

The vaccination issue got the better of the previous Bulgarian government, which led the country to a long political crisis. The new Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, therefore has the difficult task of bringing stability to Bulgaria. But despite the reward of 35 euros that it offers to pensioners who choose to be vaccinated, Bulgaria remains the least vaccinated country in the European Union with less than 30% of the population having received two doses.

Mariya Gabriel regrets this situation, which she attributes to the “strong significance of this lack of confidence due to disinformation and the lack of information presented by people in whom we trust”. She protests against the violence that has taken place in her country and maintains that for the situation to calm down, we need “dialogue, discussion, and an increasingly clear awareness of how much to vaccinate it is to be responsible towards oneself and towards society ”.

She also regrets that Bulgaria still does not have its recovery plan, “while other countries have already made this investment, which is so important for their economy, for their health system, for their teachers, for their sector. cultural ». She wants to see “a very clear line” emerge in order to be able to solve her country’s problems, because “without a stable government, without a good agreement on the country’s priorities, it will be difficult to move forward as we have seen for a year ».

To give your opinion on education policies in the European Union, visit the platform of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Program prepared by Georgina Robertson, Isabelle Romero, Yi Song, Perrine Desplats and Céline Schmitt.

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