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Background note on the first-ever European elections in Bulgaria - Sunday 20 May 2007 - 18 MEPs elected

European citizenship - 24-05-2007 - 11:26
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On 20 May, President Pöttering made the following statement following the election of 18 Bulgarian Members of the European Parliament on Sunday 20 May, in Buglaria's first ever European election. "This is an important day for Bulgaria. On 1st January it became a member of the European Parliament. Today the Bulgarian citizens have elected for the first time their representatives in the European Parliament. After the fall of communism Bulgaria is thereby integrated again in the European family.

The 18 Bulgarian members will be the voice of the Bulgarian citizens and will represent their interests in the European Parliament. As President of the European Parliament, I warmly welcome the new colleagues and wish them every success in the coming two years of the mandate.

This is also a good opportunity to thank all the members of the Bulgarian parliament who since September 2005 were observers in the European Parliament and since 1st January this year, full members. I thank them for their hard work and dedication to European integration.

I hope that the new members of the Parliament will soon be integrated in the work of the House and be able to contribute with their experience and knowledge for the benefit of their voters and the European project. I feel sure that their positive contribution will help to improve voter participation in future elections".

President Pöttering visited Bulgaria on 19-20 April on his official trip. In Sofia he addressed the Bulgarian Parliament, met with leading political personalities and spoke about the importance of decisions taken by the European Parliament for the citizens of Member states.
Results of the Bulgarian European elections
On Sunday, 20 May, only five months after joining the EU, Bulgarians celebrated their first ever European election, choosing 18 MEPs, who will serve in Parliament for two years - that is, until the June 2009 European Parliament elections, to be held in all 27 Member States. Official results were announced on 23 May 2007. Turnout was 28.6 percent.
The GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) led the way with 21.68% of the vote, which will entitle its members to 5 seats in the European Parliament, these going to the EPP-ED. The European Socialist Platform followed closely with 21.41% (also 5 seats, PES). Others included the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (20.26%, 4 seats, ALDE); Ataka (14.20%, 3 seats, ITS); and the Simeon II National Movement (6.27%, 1 seat, ALDE).
12 members will be new to the European Parliament; six are current MEPs
European People's Party - European Democrats
Dushana Panayotova Zdravkova - GERB 
Rumyana Ruseva Zheleva - GERB
Nikolay Evtimov Mladenov - GERB
Petya Stavreva Stavreva - GERB
Vladimir Andreev Uruchev - GERB
Party of the European Socialists
Evgeni Zahariev Kirilov - PES 
Marusia Ivanova Lubcheva - PES
Atanas Atanasov Paparizov - PES
Kristian Ivanov Vigenin - PES
Iliana Malinova Yotova - PES
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Mariela Velichkova Baeva - MRF
Filiz Hakaeva Husmenova MRF 
Metin Husein Kazak - MRF
Vladko Todorov Panayotov - MRF
Biliana Ilieva Raeva - NMSII 
Identity Tradition and Sovereignty
Slavcho Penchev Binev - Ataka 
Desislav Slavov Chukolov - Ataka
Dimitar Kinov Stoyanov - Ataka  
Just five months after joining the EU, Bulgaria held its first-ever European elections to elect eighteen MEPs on Sunday 20 May 2007. Generally, the mandate of MEPs is five years but the first elected Bulgarian representatives will serve two years until the next elections for European Parliament in all 27 member states in June 2009.
Although Bulgaria has not yet held European elections, it has had representatives in the European Parliament since its accession on 1 January 2007.  Eighteen "temporary" MEPs were nominated by the Bulgarian national assembly.  Some of the current MEPs were also "Observers" at the European Parliament from the end of 2005 and some of them will run at the forthcoming election.
The EU Accession Treaty for Bulgaria and Romania stipulates that the two countries should organise elections for MEPs before the end of 2007.  The Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov decreed that these elections would take place on Sunday 20 May.  The official election campaign begins on 20 April.  The elections will take place under the proportional electoral system with national lists of the political parties, coalitions and independent candidates.
This website aims to inform you about the elections in Bulgaria. You can find a message from European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering, information about the European Parliament's achievements during its current mandate (2004-2009) and the future responsibilities and the role of the elected MEPs.  This website also includes information about the electoral law and other details concerning the campaign in Bulgaria.
Please click on the links below to find out more:
REF.: 20070418BKG05394

A message from the European Parliament President - Hans-Gert Pöttering

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Welcome to this website!
Allow me to express my joy at Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union, and to highlight the historic significance of the enlargement of the European Union that occurred on 1 January this year. It took over sixty years for Bulgaria to be restored to a free Europe and for our continent to be reunited.
On Sunday 20 May, for the first time in its distinguished history, Bulgarians went to the polls to elect eighteen representatives to the European Parliament. This is a very important date for the Bulgarian people because elections are at the heart of democracy. Having been myself a Member of the European Parliament since 1979, I have personally experienced six direct EP elections and I would like to call on all Bulgarian citizens to take part in this important vote.
The European Parliament is now both influential and self-confident thanks to the rights which it has gradually acquired. It is the representative of the European citizens and co-decides today on most legislation and on the European budget on an equal footing with the Council of Ministers in which the Member States are represented.
The European Parliament has always been committed to Bulgarian accession to the EU. At the end of January this year President Parvanov addressed MEPs in a formal sitting in Brussels. He said: "I take this opportunity to thank the European Parliament for the support it gave Bulgaria throughout the entire process of its accession, for its constructive criticism and for its encouragement for Bulgaria to carry forward its pro-European reforms.  The importance of that support is determined also by the growing role of the European parliament as a direct expression of the will of the almost half billion-strong population of a united Europe." The first elections to the European Parliament will be a further significant step on Bulgaria's transformation and integration into the European Union.
Just 18 days after Bulgaria joined the EU, the European Parliament adopted a resolution which condemned the verdict of the Libyan Criminal Court to pass a death sentence on the five Bulgarian nurses. The Parliament invited the Libyan authorities to take the necessary measures to review and quash the death sentence, and pave the way for an early resolution of the case on a humanitarian basis. MEPs also called for a revision of the common policy of engagement with Libya.
We are looking forward to welcoming the 18 new Members that your country elected in May. Following this crucial election, the new Members will be working on the further development of our European home. They will face many challenging issues ranging from measures to tackle climate change, foreign policy, globalisation, defending human rights, and creating an area of freedom, security and justice. The decisions that Members of the Parliament take will therefore have a direct impact on the daily lives of all Bulgarians, by voting you have the opportunity to shape those decisions.
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What does a Member of the European Parliament do?

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There are 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and they have a decisive voice in most EU legislation. While the Council represents the individual member states and the Commission seeks to uphold the interests of the Union as a whole, the European Parliament represents the EU’s 490 million citizens and is directly elected by them. Decisions that MEPs make have direct impact on people's lives in all EU countries, which is a good reason for citizens to vote in the European elections.
MEPs can approve, amend or reject most of the European laws. The European Parliament does not have the final say alone on the European laws; if a law is to pass, Parliament must find agreement with the Council, representing the Member States. Increasingly it is the MEPs, whose job it is to represent citizens rather than Member States, who find the solutions determining the shape of EU law. Improving bathing water standards, safer use of the internet, maximum working hours, ban on animal testing for cosmetics and better food labelling are just some issue MEPs have recently legislated on.
MEPs also decide on the EU's annual budget, and supervise expenditure.
Parliamentarians also oversee the European Commission by asking questions, giving the budget "discharge" (verifying that the EU budget money was spent properly) and conducting hearings of the Commissioners-designate. The European Parliament can also force the Commission to resign.
How do MEPs work?
MEPs spend four days per month in parliamentary sessions in Strasbourg - additional sessions are held in Brussels. During these sittings all MEPs meet in public and take the most important decisions by voting on legislative issues.
Most of the work, however, is done in committees, where all proposed legislation is first discussed before being submitted, debated and voted on in plenary session. In committees, MEPs amend proposals from the Commission and Council and adopt legislative proposals and own-initiative reports. There are 20 committees and each specialises in a particular field (such as the environment, public health and food safety, industry, research and energy, transport and agriculture). MEPs can also sit in sub-committees, temporary committees and committees of inquiry, to focus on a particular issue (for example the existence of secret CIA detention centres in Europe for suspected terrorists or the crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society).
One week per month is usually devoted to meetings of the political groups, where Parliament’s members discuss proposed legislation which will come up at the plenary session. MEPs are grouped together on the basis of political affiliation rather than nationality. There are eight groups at the European Parliament and MEPs cannot belong to more than one political group.
Apart from plenary sessions, committees and political groups, MEPs meet in delegations (which interact with the parliaments of countries that are not members of the European Union) and cross-party intergroups (where they focus on specific subjects of common interest).
MEPs also have the responsibility to spend time in their constituencies, so that they can represent local concerns at European level. All MEPs make as much time as possible to talk with their constituents, local business and organisations, Parliament set aside a number of short recess periods to facilitate this.
The last link below details the powers of MEPs and the European Parliament.
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So, just what is an EP political group?

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Is the term political group confusing? Would you like to get it straight once and for all? Below you can find a series of articles looking at the eight political groups in the European Parliament. We will consider their history, leaders and programmes. But let's start at the beginning by looking at the political groups and what role they play within the EU.
The political group system in the European Parliament is a very specific and special one. Instead of sticking with national interests, MEPs from political parties across the EU come together in supranational groupings, representing common interests. For example, the largest grouping - the European People's Party - European Democrats, or EPP-ED - brings together 277 MEPs from all 27 EU countries.
At the moment there are eight political groupings in the European Parliament and 13 non-attached MEPs. To set up a new political group there must be a minimum of 20 members elected in at least one fifth of EU countries.
Power House of the Parliament
The political groups are vital to the running of the European Parliament: they decide what issues will be dealt with at the plenary, they can also table amendments to reports that will be voted on during the plenary and before the session they decide which position the political group will take. However, no member can be forced to vote in a particular way.
"Group co-ordinators" play an important role, providing a point of contact within their political groups for specific policy issues and organising support within committees when it comes to voting on reports.
Each political group appoints a chairman, or in some cases two. The influence of the groups is reflected in the fact that they put forward the candidates for all the important posts including the EP president, vice-presidents, committee chairmen and the quaestors.
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What will MEPs be deciding until the end of the legislature in June 2009? Key legislation in course

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Some of the important topics that MEPs will be dealing with after being elected to the European Parliament are listed below.  Key topics for MEPs include: climate change, waste management, immigration, energy, enlargement and EU borders, security in airports, telecoms, postal services, audiovisual services and wine reform.
  • Measures to fight climate change:  New proposals to further reduce greenhouse emissions (CO2 in particular) from road transport (cars, heavy good vehicles), affecting levels of emissions and quality of petrol.  Also, Directives to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from aviation. Bio fuels proposals. A reform of the emissions trading system to include other industries / sectors, in particular air transport. Revision of the quality of air standards (EP already voted in first reading), which have a particular impact on urban and industrial areas.
  • Revision of legislation on waste management. The revision of the framework directive for waste. In first reading Parliament has called for binding targets in Member States. Impact also on incineration possibilities by local authorities. Second reading should take place in this legislature.  
  • Quality of water. It complements the framework directive, dealing with polluting substances in EU waters. Binding obligations for Member States.
  • Framework for the soil protection, first reading expected May. How far the EU should legislate in this field? Impact on urbanism.
Health and food safety
  • Labelling of spirits. first reading. An agreement with Council is possible. The legislation refers to all types of regional drinks, though biggest changes affect vodka and whisky.
  • Innovative therapies. First reading should take place in April. A European system for registration of this type of therapies. Ethics issues at stake as well.
  • Nutrition/Obesity. A review of existing EU legislation on food labelling and nutrition labelling is expected by the end of 2007. Related to fight against obesity. Parliament has already called for more strict measures on advertising in an own initiative report adopted end January in plenary. A white paper on nutrition and physical activity to be presented by Commission in April 2007.
  • Enzymes.  first reading expected in May 2007, part of a package concerning also vitamins.
  • Maritime security. the new package of measures concerning flags, accidents, civil responsibility, inspection. First reading in April, but the procedure likely to continue later on in this legislature.
  • Railway transport. Market opening of passenger and goods transport. Parliament should vote in third reading after conciliation.
  • Postal service. The new phase of the liberalisation process for post of less than 50 gr. Public service and competitiveness of the industry. Markus Ferber report to be voted in committee in May.
  • Security measures in airports. Second reading in 2007. Common measures regarding checks and security matters in airports and flights.
  • Energy Internal market. Commission to propose legislation and measures to complete internal market. Objectives regarding energy sources. For the time being, follow up reports on prospects for the internal gas and electricity market and a roadmap or renewable energy in Europe
  • Energy saving proposals. An update of current "energy star" legislation which aims to make household products and office equipment more energy efficient. The Commission will present other proposals, as the most efficient way to fight climate change. Also related, the low consumption lights proposals.
Internal market
  • Health services. The Commission may present proposals dealing with free movement of patients / providers. Reimbursement of health expenses. These issues were excluded from services directive.
  • Single market review. An important revision which will be launched at the end of this year including for instance review of the time sharing directive.
  • Public procurement. How to increase transparency, assure access of all European operators and fight corruption in the assignment of public contracts.
  • Control of acquisition of arms
  • Gambling and betting in the internal market (online gambling)
  • Return of illegal immigrants. Common rules and conditions for the expulsion of illegal immigrants.
  • Labour migration. Conditions of entry and residence of seasonal workers and remunerated trainees.
  • Common code for visas + common elements of biometric identification.
  • Rapid intervention border forces Member States facing massive immigration may get the help of teams integrated by border guards of other countries.
  • Audiovisual directive. The revision of the Television without borders legislation. Second reading should take place during this legislature. First reading amendments allow product placement under strict conditions. Advertising breaks can take place after 30 minutes minimum.
  • Roaming. Regulation to assure that mobile telephone users do not pay excessive prices for international roaming services when making calls and receiving calls in another country. Issue to be voted during May 9 plenary.
  • New telecom package. Liberalisation of the telecom markets, to be proposed by the Commission this year.
  • Research. The creation of a European equivalent to MIT European Institute of Technology could be on the parliamentary agenda this term. The objective is to reverse the fragmentation of research and education efforts. Also, initiatives to generate a European Research Area.
  • The enlargement and EU borders. Political debates on this issue are likely. Any decision on enlargement needs the green light of Parliament.
  • Progress reports on Balkans and Turkey.
Future of Europe/Budgetary affairs
  • Broad revision of budgetary framework to take place in 2008-09. EP binding vote.
  • Agreement on eventual proposal for Constitution or equivalent.
Legal protection
  • Property rights and penal measures, Parliament is likely to support criminal measures to fight infringement of property rights. If Council agrees to a common position, the issue would come back during this legislature.
  • Legal protection of designs and models, Key directive for the car manufacturers and dealers, related to the liberalisation of car parts.
  • Intellectual property: Parliament wants EU legislation in the field of online music service. Currently, there are no EU-wide copyright licences making it difficult for new Internet-based music services to develop their full potential.
  • Wine - reform of the market
Animal protection
  • Ban on trade on cat and dog furs - codecision proposal. Marketing of these products to be forbidden in the EU. Probable first reading agreement spring 2007.
  • Protection of animals at slaughter Proposal for a regulation to be adopted by EC end of 2007, will update the stunning and killing requirements of farm animals 
  • Feed labelling and authorisation: EC to propose a revision of existing rules end of 2007.
Civil Liberties
  • Matrimonial law. Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters. Parental responsibility.
  • Data protection and police cooperation are subjects likely to be on the table along 2007, but no concrete proposal yet.
  • EU Action Plan on Drugs (2009 - 2012) to be adopted in this legislature.
Equal opportunities / Women
  • Initiatives to combat discrimination.  Also initiatives to facilitate combination of work and family life
Foreign affairs
  • Arab world reforms. The EU strategy. 
  • Foreign policy aspects of the energy policy - own initiative report
  • Economic relations with Russia, own initiative report.
  • Assessment of financial aid to Palestine.
  • Agreements with third countries and regions: China, India, Latin America.
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An overview of the European Parliament in action at the midway point of the legislature July 2004-December 2006

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The European Parliament changed dramatically in 2004.  Following the historic enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 Member States on 1 May 2004, European Parliament elections were held in June 2004 in all 25 Member States.  The number of MEPs increased from 626 to 732.  As a consequence, the number of official working languages increased from 11 to 20 with a mind-boggling possible 380 different language combinations for interpretation. From 1 January 2007, the number of MEPs rises temporarily to 785 with the addition of 35 Romanian 18 Bulgarian MEPs. After the European elections in 2009, the total number reduces to 736 MEPs.  Also from 1 January 2007, the number of official languages rises from 20 to 23 with the addition of Romanian, Bulgarian and Irish. 
One of Parliament's first duties after the 2004 European elections was to vote on the new European Commission, made up of 25 Commissioners then to be 27 Commissioner.  MEPs proved decisive with the House rejecting the first Italian candidate Rocco Buttiglione, before the House finally voted in favour of José Manuel Barroso's team in November 2004.  In May 2005, Parliament also had to face the "no" votes on the Constitution in France and the Netherlands, MEPs had voted 500 votes to 137 with 40 abstentions in favour of the Constitutional Treaty in January 2005.
From a legislative point of view, Parliament's position on the much debated Services Directive which aims to facilitate the provision of cross-border services by removing obstacles to the free movement of services in the internal was taken up by EU government and eventually adopted by MEPs in November 2006.  In December 2006, the European Parliament adopted the compromise it negotiated with Council on the new regulation for chemicals, REACH, which will oblige producers to register all those chemical substances produced or imported above a total quantity of 1 tonne per year. Registration will affect about 30,000 substances.
As for Parliament budgetary powers, in May 2006, Parliament adopted a report on the EU financial perspective for 2007-2013.  After two years of hard negotiations with the EU Council of Ministers, the European Parliament managed to obtain €4 billion more than the EU Member States had originally been prepared to spend. MEPs had long sought to increase the EU budget substantially, to match the EU's growing ambitions.  However, faced with the inflexibility of some Member States and the risk of a major crisis if the financial perspectives were not adopted on schedule, they opted for a "realistic" agreement, focusing their efforts on those policy areas that they deemed most important.
Below are selected headlines showing the European Parliament in action, exercising its supervisory, legislative and budgetary powers during the plenary sessions held in Strasbourg and Brussels. 
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Key dates and facts on the European election campaign in Bulgaria

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11 500 polling stations across the country will be open.
 - The lists of the voters will be posted on 9 April.
- Electoral rolls will be published on 9 April.  EU citizens permanently resident in Bulgaria have until 9 April to register. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will contact their country of origin to ensure that they did not vote in the 2004 European elections in that country, as this is prohibited under Bulgarian law.  The list of foreigners entitled to vote will then be published on 24 April.
-Reception of the requests for recording of the parties: 4 April.
- Reception of the lists of candidates: 14 April.
- Drawing of lots of the numbers of the ballot papers: 19 April.
 - Official opening of the campaign: April 20. (19-20 April official visit of EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering to Bulgaria)
- Delivery of certificates for voting outside the place of residence: 5 May.
 - End of the campaign: 18 May.
 - "Day of reflection": 19 May.
 - First-ever European election in Bulgaria to elect 18 MEPs - Sunday 20 May.
 - Announcement of the results and the repartition of the mandates: 23 May.
 - Official Publication of the list of the 18 elected Members of the European Parliament 25 May.
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