TEN YEARS OF EUROPEANIZATION
OF THE BULGARIAN SOCIETY
THE EUROPEAN INTEGRATION OF BULGARIA:
A SOCIOLOGICAL ENIGMA OR A RESEARCH PROGRAM?
GEORGI D. DIMITROV
This paper, being a summary of the conventional research program which unifies the papers collected in this volume, justifies the necessity of a long-lasting large-scale sociological investigation on the Bulgarian EU-membership experience – for the sake both of better understanding of the reasons for the escalating EU crises and the opportunity for a non-classical development of the sociological knowledge itself.
Keywords: EU membership, Mechanism for cooperation and verification, crises, anti-European attitudes, sociological cognition
EUROPEAN INTEGRATION BEYOND THE NORMATIVE VIEW: FLUIDITY AND UNCERTAINTY AS A “NORM”
The article criticizes the normative – political and theoretical – approach to the EU. It analyses the paradoxes of the political constitution of the EU, processes of contradictions and fluidity of institutional structures, representative of both EU and new member states. The author poses the question of the paradigm, which could explain such processes and offers the entangled modernities approach. From this point of view, hybridity, constant change, fluidity are not the expression of a crisis, but of a new type of contextual and dynamic institutionalism, which could be more adequate to the uncertain environment than the adherence to classical rigid structures. It would be sensible for the EU and the member states to operate in a permanent dialogue regime; negotiation and renegotiation should become a fundamental principle of the functioning of the EU.
Keywords: the European Union, Eurointegration, entangled modernities, fluid institutions
MEMBERSHIP IN THE EU AND BULGARIA’S ECONOMY
The goal of the present study is to delineate one possible framework for analyzing the economic effects of Bulgaria’s membership in the EU, as well as to offer initial observations informing the analysis. The analysis concentrates on the internal dynamic of Bulgarian economic indicators in their relation to the country’s EU membership and is based on the method of the analytical narrative. The initial analysis offered uses to focus levels – macroeconomic and microeconomics, and tries to account for the importance of both the membership and pre-accession periods. The assessment with respect to both the macroeconomic indicators and to various microeconomic processes is undoubtedly positive.
Keywords: European Union, Bulgaria’s membership, macroeconomic effects, microeconomic processes
WINNERS AND LOSERS: STRUCTURAL CHANGE IN BULGARIAN ECONOMY DURING THE LAST DECADE
The period before Bulgaria’s accession to the EU was marked by high rate of economic growth. Both final consumption and fixed capital formation are factors that contributed to this growth. During that period a sizable net inflow of foreign capital was recorded, in the form of foreign direct investment and new debt accumulation of the private sector. These trends persisted throughout the first two years of the EU membership. The global economic crisis led to a sharp contraction of investment activity in Bulgaria, with the employment falling for four consecutive years. The impact of the crisis, combined with the effect of the common market resulted in considerable shifts in the structure of the economy. In 2015 the industry already had the highest share in the gross value added. The share of some manufacturing sectors in the exports of goods have risen by 500% or even 800% during the last decade. The role of export-oriented business services also significantly increased, becoming a key job creator in recent years.
Keywords: common market, growth, structural change, investment, specialization
FINANCIAL DECENTRALIZATION: ITS STATE AND PERSPECTIVES
The deteriorating state of municipal budgets creates a number of obstacles to their use as a tool for policy-making. The discontinued fiscal decentralization process and some of the recent attempts to address the problem of increasing indebtedness among local authorities created prerequisites for an increase in the local tax burden, while prospects for improving the fiscal situation of municipalities are still lacking. The structure of municipal expenditures shows an increasing importance of the absorption of EU funds and a continuing dependence on the decisions of the central government. The relocation of personal income tax proceeds back to municipalities seems the only viable alternative within the existing tax system.
Keywords: local finances, decentralization, taxes, budget, EU funds, revenues and expenditures, reform, tax burden, municipalities
BULGARIA IN THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL POLICY:
CONVERGENCE OF PRACTICES, HETEROGENEITY OF MODELS
This article’s aim is to assess the progress in social policy field made after the Bulgarian EU accession. Due to the European Social Policy’s peculiarities, this change - to a great degree - depends on internal factors and especially on the abilities of the Member-States to formulate specific goals and handle tools that are relevant to their own problems and to obtain favorable results.
Based on strategic documents analysis, as well as on a comparison of social indicators, the thesis that the European Social Policy does not alternate the accession market model of social policy, set in early post-communist transition, is argued. This model generates a growing inequality -- before as well as after the social transfers. In the same time, during the decade of Bulgaria’s EU membership a favorable trend of poverty reduction is observed. However, it cannot compensate the country’s lagging behind the other Member-States in the social policy field. The needed stark progress ought to pass through a reformulation of the already adopted Social Policy model.
Keywords: social policy, market model of social policy, European social policy, European social model
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE EU STRUCTURAL AND COHESION FUNDS?
The record of the biggest net beneficiaries of EU structural and cohesion funds and the review of related literature show that the effects of these transfers on the national economy are not necessarily positive and depend on a myriad of other factors. According to some studies, the impact of EU funds can be even negative on the recipient country under certain circumstances.
If net beneficiaries wish to benefit most from these transfers, there are two approaches that can be taken – separately or cumulatively. Firstly, these countries can channel the EU funds to projects that help strengthen local institutions such as initiatives for e-government, open and objective judiciary, administrative streamlining, effective law enforcement and the like. Secondly, the beneficiary country, parallel to utilisation of EU funds, should not shelve reforms that aim to achieve a better institutional environment. If none if these approaches is taken, recipients of EU funds face the risk of putting an excessive focus on absorption of EU funds, at the expense of freezing or delaying much-necessary reforms.
Keywords: effectiveness of EU funds, EU structural and cohesion funds, cohesion policy, SCF
TEN YEARS OF EUROPEAN MEMBERSHIP:
DEFECTIVE DEMOCRACY, DEPENDENT INSTITUTIONS
This article is focused on the effects of EU membership of the country in ten years perspective. The study analyzes institutional and legislative reforms, related to the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, establishing independent regulatory and controlling bodies for fighting political corruption and conflict of interests. These issues are studied in a comparative regional perspective taking into account the tendencies and phases in developing democratic institutions (their consolidation, stagnation and erosion). Institutional reforms are analyzed in the light of common European standards for strengthening the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary as well as taking in the light of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. The conclusion builds on the idea that legislative reforms are necessary, but not sufficient in achieving common democratic standards for independence and accountability of key institutions. These reforms need to be complemented by inclusion of important stakeholders and active participation of civil society actors in the process.
Keywords: rule of law, judiciary, corruption, European Union, Mechanism for cooperation and verification, democratic acountability of institutions
CIVIC PARTICIPATION AND MEDIA DEBATE IN THE CONTEXT
OF EU MEMBERSHIP: (UN)EXPECTED TRAJECTORIES OF EUROPEANISATION
The accession of the ten countries of Central and Eastern Europe to the European Union has unanimously been pronounced by political and economic researchers as the most significant success of European integration in the field of foreign policy. Nevertheless, the escalation of the problems in the fights against corruption and in the reform of the judiciary system in countries like Bulgaria (but also Hungary and Poland) puts into question the argument of the mainstream theories about a gradual and irreversible process of Europeanization as a result of EU accession. The recent process of Brexit and the reactions to the refugee crisis in some Member States also show that Europeanization can be problematized even beyond the Central and Eastern European context. The academic discussion needs to continue to search an answer to the questions as follows: what is the role of EU membership as regards the quality of democracy and governance, under what conditions are informal rules and cultural norms adopted in an accession country, and are there any perspectives when conditionality policy loses its effectiveness. This paper is a small step in this direction. It aims to outline the trends of development of the civic and media debate in Bulgaria in the context of EU membership as the basis for problematizing our understanding of the Europeanisation process. It does not seek a solution but rather systematizes questions regarding the preconditions for low representativeness of the civil sector, low effectiveness of the engaged civic action, limited public debate and deteriorating media environment in Bulgaria, ten years after EU accession.
Keywords: Europeanization, Bulgaria, public sphere, media, civil society
THE DIFFICULT EUROPEANIZATION:
BULGARIAN MEDIA IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
The article traces some of the basic developments in the Bulgarian media sphere after the country’s accession to EU in 2007. The author highlights the mutual connections between several key trends: the crisis of the media economy, the deterioration of media freedom, the growing influences on the media, including by the state, the deficit of quality content, the increase of nationalism and hate speech in the traditional and online media. The high expectations that the media environment would improve after 2007 were not fulfilled. The reasons for this are analyzed. Several alternative developments are pointed out, which may potentially promote a change in the culture of journalism and in the basic values defended by the media.
Keywords: media, crisis, economy, politics, freedom of the press, influence on the media, hate speech, EU
BULGARIAN’S RETURN TO EUROPE –
UNDER THE SHADOW OF RUSOPHILIAN TRADITION
The main specificity of the Bulgarian participation in the process of the EU Eastern enlargement of the EU - is the slow, inconsistent and limited progress in the implementation of pre-accession conditionality. The paper aims to argument the existence of a substantial but relatively neglected source for this characteristic -- the sustainability of a rusophilian tradition in Bulgarian political life. In pursuance of the stated objective, the text is organized in three main parts -- analysis of the origin and political design of some basic aspects of the rusophilian idea; tracking their communist renovation; argumentation of the sustainability of their political use after 1989. This sustainability casts doubt on the first postcommunist government’s declared prioritization of integration in Western European organizations in Bulgarian foreign policy, giving it a formal, largely without real content character .
Keywords: Bulgaria, foreign policy, EU eastern enlargement, post-communist governments, rusopfilstvo
COSMOPOLITAN EMPATHY AND SOLIDARITY.
AN ATTEMPT TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE CONCEPTS
The article problematizes the basic categories of Ulrich Beck’s cosmopolitan sociology project. The focus is specifically on the category of “cosmopolitan solidarity”, as a precondition for the formation of communities beyond national, class or ethnic boundaries. These communities are at the core of the theory of cosmopolitization, the basic task of which is to point out the paths and possibilities for surviving under conditions of “world risk society”. The author’s reasoning is based on the critical thesis that the various concepts used to describe cosmopolitization, as a mode of attitude towards strangers, are not sufficiently precise and differentiated. The article then tries to lend greater precision to the concept of cosmopolitan solidarity, as a mode of asserting social distance, with its preconditions and levels. The stress of this discussion is on the emotional and cognitive levels of social distance, and on the concepts in terms of which those levels can be understood sociologically. Drawing upon debates on empathy, sympathy, and compassion conducted in other disciplines, the article attempts to understand them in sociological terms in order to make them adequate for a sociological model of cosmopolitization.
Keywords: cosmopolitan solidarity, cosmopolitan empathy, social distance
IS THE YOUNG GENERATION MAKING “A TURN TO THE RIGHT”?
ANALYSIS OF A SELECTION OF CASES
The characteristics of the so-called Y generation in post-Communist countries indicate that this generation is considerably disappointed by the changes; it is lost, full of fears, and willing to accept political solutions of an authoritarian and xenophobic kind. More distinctly than ever, these solutions are perceived by them as a better way of resolving their life problems related primarily to entry into adulthood (entering the labor market, creating a family, achieving status). This is evident when observing young people’s sympathies and political decisions, which, in many of these countries, indicate a clear “turn to the Right”. Although the tendency in Western countries is similar, its local background is different, and its political consequences might also be different. The paper shows the semantic complexity of the spatial aspect of Left vs. Right in order to describe, using the term “turn to the Right”, the scope and specificities of this phenomenon in several selected countries. The article also explains the factors that make young people in these countries more susceptible to Right-wing political proposals.
Keywords: young generation, radicalization of the right, post-communist countries
TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE ROLE AND SOCIAL FUNCTIONS OF MODERN SCIENCE: MAIN FACTORS AND PREREQUISITES
The article examines the main factors and prerequisites for transformation processes occurring in the social context of modern science. For the purpose of our analysis a self-elaborated interpretive scheme is applied in which the system of science is presented as composed of two main components: cognitive, representing the body of the dynamically evolving scientific knowledge, and social (research socium). The whole system operates in a particular external environment (economic, political, cultural, etc.) and is in a continuous interaction with it. As factors of endogenous nature there are indicated: changes in cognitive structure of science and the dynamics of its development, including acts of self-reflection; the role of social factors in the system of science, highlighting the growing role of social commitment of individual scientists with certain socially important causes and the development of the research institutions in the direction of paying more attention to the transfer of scientific knowledge to industry and business and to communication with the political authorities and the public. The role of the exo-systemic factors relating to the external environment of science is also discussed. The main influencing components are summarized as: policies and resourcing, procurements and knowledge and scientific products market, values and ethics, understanding and trust. In addition, some important factors of a complex nature are highlighted: the role of new technologies, globalization and transformations in the knowledge production. It was concluded that current challenges assign a new role of science which should increase their responsibility and reflection regarding the specific problems of today’s society.
Keywords: science as a system, science and society, social role of science, transformation processes in science, science and globalization, research policy
AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE CREDIT IN BULGARIA
FROM THE OTTOMAN PERIOD TO THE FIRST WORLD WAR
TSVETELINA MARINOVA, NIKOLAY NENOVSKI
The paper presents the historical evolution of agricultural social finance in the Bulgarian lands from the Ottoman Empire to the First World War. It is focused on the genesis, transformation and forms of long-term development of agricultural cooperative credit, its driving forces and mechanisms.
Keywords: social finance, cooperative banks, rural credit
CLUSTER ANALYSIS IN SOCIOLOGY
Cluster analysis has proved its value in different scientific disciplines. Unfortunately, this cannot be claimed for sociology both at home and abroad. The main reasons for this neglect are: on one hand, the insufficiently pronounced features and the undeveloped methodology of application of cluster analysis in sociology with a view to the specific objectives and data, on the other. This article aims to contribute to overcoming the first restriction by highlighting possible applications of the analysis both in terms of the cognitive nature of its outcome (product) and in terms of the role of this result in the study of social phenomena by the joint use of a few multivariate statistical methods. The application of cluster analysis in sociology can serve to build a typological composite indicator and an empirical typology.
Keywords: sociology, cluster analysis, composite indicator, typology