On 13 September 2019, Director-General Mauro Petriccione participated in a Citizens' Dialogue in Sofia, Bulgaria. The dialogue was held in a relatively positive atmosphere with very specific and up to the point questions and comments from the audience. The audience included mainly NGO members and representatives of Bulgarian institutions, whose work is closely related to the environmental laws.
During a brief opening speech, Director-General Petriccione gave an overview of the climate change issues and the policies and strategies that the EU has implemented in order to tackle this challenge, including the 2050 strategy for a climate-neutral economy. He stated that “beyond institutional mobilisation, member states themselves need to initiate dialogues with citizens, the private and public sector to raise awareness about this challenge.”
Questions from the audience addressed large list of topics linked to the carbon footprint, preserving natural inhabitant and biodiversity, the ETS sectors and the lack of communication on what the EU is actually doing.
Many participants expressed concerns that the EU is not doing enough on combating climate change, a comment, which Directorate-General Petriccione fully endorsed. He emphasized the fact that there are 28 member states and it is often a great challenge to reach a consensus.
He added that if a fully inclusive system on all levels is not developed, we would not be able to see results. Other important topics involved the Commission’s proposal to stop waste combustion processes and the border carbon tax.
The majority of participants were worried that climate transition projects in Bulgaria are not implemented correctly, due to misappropriation of funds and corruption. Questions were raised about the lack of an adequate rule of law mechanism to hold the authorities responsible. Some people urged Directorate-General Petriccione to track the allocation of EU funding in Bulgaria.
One of the participants shared a personal story about the existing obstacles in installment of a solar panel for personal needs, emphasizing the overly bureaucratic process in Bulgaria, lasting up to 12 months. She raised the question of how can we simplify the process.
The CD ended on a positive note, talking about the paths that Bulgaria needs to undertake in order to become a climate-neutral economy, such as more investment in clean energy, hydro, nuclear and biomass.