VP Tajani awarded honorary membership of Bulgarian Club of Journalists against Corruption
The spread of counterfeit goods and the growth of corruption are major obstacles to economic growth. The United Nations has estimated that the volume of trade in counterfeit goods is more than €200 billion every year, a volume comparable to the trade in illegal drugs. Fake goods compete unfairly with genuine products, pose a strong risk to European companies' profit margins and survival, and put many jobs in danger. Small and medium sized enterprises, on which the European economy heavily depends for new jobs, have less power to avoid counterfeiting and corruption and so are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of both. Today, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, will help highlight the harm caused by the circulation of counterfeit goods and also discuss the European Commission's policies for the construction industry during a conference in Sofia today on "European prospects and challenges facing the economy and the construction industry in the context of the new programming period 2014-2020".
During the conference, Vice President Tajani will make a presentation to key figures from government institutions, local administrations and businesses on his anti-counterfeiting campaign: "EU Stop Fakes" as well as the European Commission's plans to help the construction industry. The Vice President will then be awarded honorary membership of the Club - Journalists against Corruption, in recognition of his EU level initiative to campaign against counterfeit goods and the successful strategies he consistently uses to communicate about the EU. He will also take this opportunity to meet with Vice-President Margarita Popova and Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “When I first looked at the problem of counterfeiting, together with my colleague Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, I was shocked by the scale of the activity and the extent of the damage it does to individuals and society. The fight against corruption and counterfeiting are two aspects of the struggle for a decent, moral and just society. Through the European Commission's campaign against counterfeiting we aim to change attitudes, to turn the tide against this global wave of crime – protecting our health and our economies. We extend a warm hand of friendship to the journalists of the anti-corruption club as they stand beside us in this campaign."
Apart from harming our domestic companies, fake goods can also pose a risk to consumer health as their production is not governed by the EU's health and safety laws. Counterfeiters also avoid paying taxes or duties, curtailing state revenues and passing on the bill to European taxpayers.
Bulgarian law enforcement officials already play a highly important role in guarding the doors to the EU from counterfeit goods produced in factories across Asia. In 2011, Bulgarian officials detained 28% of all the counterfeit goods stopped at EU borders.
The "EU Stop Fakes" campaign aims to promote closer cooperation between the European Commission, national authorities and trade associations to stop the production and circulation of counterfeit goods. Most importantly, it aims to make consumers aware of the damage counterfeiting does and remind them that they have the power to combat this activity through their own actions and choices. Vice President Tajani will underline the central role that the press can play in bringing this message to the attention of the public.
Exiting the crisis in the construction sector
At the conference Vice President Tajani will also highlight the importance of the construction industry. It has an enormous importance for Europe’s economic well-being, as it accounts for about 9.5 % of GDP and 10 % of the EU’s workforce; but it is facing difficult times during this economic crisis. The Bulgarian construction sector has also shrunk - the situation is especially critical for the private residential sector where activity registered a decline of 37% between 2009 and 2013. Moreover, related social issues arose in 2008-2010, in particular with non-EU companies that won contracts but did not always respect safety standards for the work place or working time. However, as noted in the European Commission's “Construction 2020” Action Plan there are huge opportunities available in energy and resource efficiency targeted renovation of existing buildings, in those particular from the socialist period, in order to reduce energy costs for occupants. Vice President Tajani will emphasise that the use of regulation to stimulate industry and households to invest in buildings renovation and improvement of insulation seem to be key to re-launch the housing sector.
The conference "European prospects and challenges facing the economy and the construction industry in the context of the new programming period 2014-2020" is organised by the Bulgarian Construction Chamber, the newspaper Stroitel and the Club – Journalists against Corruption. It will include presentations from the Bulgarian Ministers for Regional development, Transport, EU Funds Management, Environment and Water.