EU Reflections on Bulgaria
Two interesting pieces of ‘discourse ‘ provoked me to write this post. It i not so much about the image of Bulgaria in the
EU – we all know how bad it is, thanks to the war on Europe that the current government is rigorously fighting. I was agitated by a further step by West European Politicians – the use of East European Images in their campaign. The EU may may be often seen as a unity in diversity and not as a ‘melting pot’ but when the political stakes are high, then a lot of well hidden arguments about intolerable differences emerge at the surface. Below are two recent examples posted in EUobserver and Daily Mail.
After the invention of the Polish Plumber far-right French politician Pilippe de Villiers has coined a new pro-unity campaign this time featuring ‘The (infamous) Bulgarian Truck Driver’ . I hoped it is a joke, but as EUobserve reports … it is quite serious:
“The French politician who created the stereotype of the “Polish plumber” has coined a new “Bulgarian truck driver” cliché for his EU election campaign. But voters are finding the event a turn-off despite scandals involving topless girls, hunger strikes and the Taliban. , who launched the catchy plumber idea during his fight against the EU constitution in a referendum in 2005, is now promoting the notion that cheap Bulgarian truckers are coming to steal French jobs. The Bulgarian trucker – coming to a stereotype near you. A Bulgarian driver costs €700 a month instead of €3,700, survives on just four hours of sleep a night and eats just twice a week, the myth-making politician is saying. Poland joined the EU in 2004 and Bulgaria in 2007, with their workers still legally barred from some EU states.”
I can’t help recalling another politician , a current MEP from Denmark Mogens Camre who spoke on RFI about a month ago calling Bulgarians and Romanians stupid. Less intelligent , to use his own words. Maybe he wanted to justify why Denmark should have more seats in the EP. Maybe he just got carried away by the French political discourse about Eastern Europeans, which features the images of Economic Threat to the regular citizens. Maybe he is a smart guy. But he is a shame for Denmark. In fact, if a proud nation like the French are afraid of Bulgarian Truck Drivers and Intelligent MEPS from Denmark fear their colleagues from Bulgaria and Romania… well, I do not know what to say, maybe we need more political strength to stand for the ideas that we use for our slogans in the EU – tolerance, diversity, solidarity, and so on.
But we should not be surprised – all opinions should be expressed so that we cna created societies and political systems based on ‘justice as fairness’ in the words of John Rawls. We should fight for the right of every person to express freely his/her opinion even though we disagree. Even though the person is as economically dangerous as a Polish Plumber, stupid as a Romanian or Bulgarian or arrogant and cynical as Mr Camre and Mr. de Villiers.
But I would rather be more careful before saying that the EU treats equally its new Member States from the poor East – in terms of agenda setting, cut subsidies, mobility restrictions and so on.