Mrs. Paunova, would you present the main priorities you are working as a MEP, what committees you are involved in?
The EU’s strength lies in creating prosperity for its citizens. After the severe financial and economic crisis one of our main tasks is to drive the European economy at new speed, so that economic prosperity returns to Europe. What happens to us with the refugee wave requires significant resources and someone has to provide them. The states and governments cannot do it, citizens do it. The only way to wake up the economy is to create an environment and give people chances to develop their initiative, to create businesses and jobs. What I am working on are the incentives for SMEs and the special focus on IT technologies because I think they are the future of the European economy and a way to make the EU competitive globally. In the European Parliament I am a member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and a deputy member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect. We are trying to promote the idea of the need for education, which leads to another type of knowledge, rather skills for young people to help them cope in the labor market.
You said that one of the areas in which you are engaged is to improve the working conditions, financing and development of SMEs. What are the measures the EU is taking to support small and medium businesses?
The measures are in two main directions. On the one hand we strive to make the environment better for small and medium businesses. Especially the Committee on Internal Market ensures that no barriers are raised to businesses by the separate countries, which prevent them from reaching normal competition to all Europeans. We are trying to improve the environment and reduce bureaucracy. More legislative decisions are viewed through the prism of whether they create additional difficulties or facilitate businesses. The EU has a direct support to small and medium enterprises via funds to finance or provide guarantees for financing. Recently one of the Bulgarian banks has started to give loans on the basis of agreement with the European Investment Fund (EIF) within the framework of COSME. BGN 200 million funding will be unlocked for the small businesses in Bulgaria thanks to guarantees from the European Investment Fund and financial support of the European Commission. By this we are trying to turn the wheel of the economy in Europe to attract more private investment.