Bulgaria’s EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was presented with the prestigious Annual Award of the Vienna Economic Forum "Partner of the Year 2020" for contribution to the economic development at regional and international level of the Forum countries.
The high-level event aimed at promoting economic co-operation between the Adriatic and Black Sea countries was attended by prime ministers of countries in the region, including Avdullah Hoti - Prime Minister of Kosovo, Denys Shmyhal - Prime Minister of Ukraine, Fatmir Bitiki - Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, ministers, economic organizations.
"The annual award of the Vienna Economic Forum is an award that I accept with recognition and responsibility. I highly appreciate the role of the Forum as a reliable platform for promoting regional economic cooperation and exchange of innovative ideas," said the Bulgarian EU Commissioner.
The Forum hosted a special session "90 minutes with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel", dedicated to mobility in the digital world and the opportunities and challenges for the regional economy. The Bulgarian EU Commissioner presented her key initiatives for forming the vision for creating a European Knowledge Strategy.
These include building the European Education Area by 2025, strengthening the European Research Area and the new Action Plan on Digital Education. As a specific measure to address differences in countries' innovation performance, she cited the ERA4YOU initiative for promoting cross-sectoral mobility. European university alliances will provide a long-term framework for transnational cooperation, allowing the free movement of knowledge and talent. Intelligent specialization strategies will strengthen regional innovation ecosystems and their interaction.
Mariya Gabriel also highlighted the role of the Horizon Europe and Erasmus + programmes to improve research potential, mobility, and support the environmental and digital transition. She gave an example with the Horizon Europe mission for smart cities, noting:
"Our ambition is to have 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030. We also envisage the creation of a Global Centre for Urban and Climate Knowledge, which will improve synergies between European and local climate and urban initiatives."
The Bulgarian EU Commissioner stressed that the EU continues to work on the implementation of the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans, which it proposed in 2018. In a short time, important achievements were made: a regional agreement to reduce roaming charges between the six partners in the region and their expected abolition from July 1, 2021, deployment of broadband access, cooperation in cybersecurity, etc.
"Digital skills and education are at the heart of the knowledge economy we are striving for. We need to have a holistic approach in which the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans and my proposed Innovation Agenda complement each other and bring concrete benefits to citizens and businesses. We have good examples and success stories. Each of these initiatives will be enriched with new opportunities within my current portfolio," concluded Mariya Gabriel.