Former Bulgarian leader discusses EU affairs

A small crowd of faculty and students gathered at the Illini Union General Lounge on Monday to listen to a lecture about the divisions that exist today within a “united” European Union. The speaker was Krastyo Petkov, former member of the Bulgarian parliament and former President of Bulgaria’s labor union confederation.

“What is happening in the European Union, especially in the last couple years, is affecting everyone today,” Petkov said. “The question I asked myself was if the European Union was really united at all.”

During his 30 minute speech, Petkov talked about various indicators that showed divisions within the European Union.

Happiness, income, ethnicity, immigration, and satisfaction are some of the indicators that Petkov used to explain these divisions. These indicators were measured by the European Social Survey, which was administered to European citizens in 2009.

“I think that is was very interesting to see that the European Union is really divided based on what European citizens actually believe,” said Ashley Smith, junior in LAS. “It is really ironic that the European Union is supposed to be uniting nations but it still has divisions within it today.”

From the results of the survey, it was clearly seen that countries such as Bulgaria, Ukraine and Portugal were the ones that scored lowest on the each indicator of the survey, Petkov said.

“East Scandinavian nations show highest interpersonal and institutional trust while Bulgaria and Portugal are at the bottom,” he said.

Unemployment, income levels, and the quality of living were some of the major points that were addressed which showed countries such as Bulgaria and Ukraine are among the nations that have the lowest happiness and employment, Petkov said.

Michael Moncayo, freshman in DGS, said these divisions in the European Union need to be solved if the union is going to serve its purpose.

“Politicians could follow such comparative analysis to see events which are coming and will have negative outcomes,” Petkov concluded. “The European Union is still strongly divided and citizens from Old Europe are more happy and satisfied and enjoy much higher quality of life.”