Prospects for drastic policy change

Maya DIMITROVA

The Congress of Balkan Forwarders was held in Sofia, and was hosted for the second time by the National Association of Bulgarian Forwarders (NABF). Sixty-five companies are members of this Association, which represents Bulgaria in the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and in the European Association for forwarding, transport, logistic and customs services (CLECAT).

The two-day discussions, held in the course of the congress sessions and the preceding international seminar, on the issue of ‘EU enlargement – a year later: conclusions, transformations, benefits, considerations’, raised a number of particular questions, related to the EU membership of Bulgaria, Romania and the other countries from the region, which sooner or later will also accede to the large European family. Both forums were convened under the honorary aegis of the Minister of Transport, Petar Mutafchiev and in cooperation with the international body Technical Assistance Information Exchange Unit (TAIEX) within the European Commission – Directorate General for Enlargement, which was a co-organiser and sponsor of the seminar. The proceedings were attended by representatives of the European Commission, CLECAT and the newly-acceded EU member countries. Apart from forwarders, customs agents from Bulgaria, Romania and the Western Balkans also participated in the congress.

The analyses, conclusions and evaluations, presented during the forum, outlined the realistic expectation horizons of the companies in Bulgaria and the region, as well as impact of globalisation processes, related to EU enlargement. In this context, one of the highlights of the congress was the consideration that the Balkan states need to overcome their traditional nation-to-nation oppositions and to integrate as an equal economic, transport, logistical and political partner, generating positive ideas for development. There is great potential, according to Ivan Sorensen, Director in DG ‘Energy and Transport’, especially when we consider the future priority role assigned to European railways. Heinrich Roge, representing the German Association for Forwarding and Logistics, shared the experience after the unification of Germany and stated that the above is particularly true for the railways of newly-acceded EU members and countries in the process of accession. He stressed the fact that the European railway networks should necessarily undergo re-organisation.

The congress adopted a declaration, in which the forwarders from the region confirm their will and readiness to support the new policy, outlined by the EU, for the development of inland transport in the first quarter of 21st century.

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