Bulgaria takes on the Council presidency at a challenging, yet promising time.
On one hand, Europe continues to deal with Brexit, the migration crisis, security issues, the rise of populist and nationalist forces, as well as geopolitical challenges.
Yet it is also gradually recovering from the financial crisis; Europe's economy is growing at a moderate pace, with unemployment slowly decreasing.
Almost eight million jobs have been created thanks to ESI funds, EFSI, the youth guarantee and the actions of the European institutions.
I am certain the presidency will contribute to the debate on the future of the EU by shaping policies based on unity and integrity.
I expect real debate on EU finances post-2020, the future of the multiannual financial framework post-2020, as well as the future of cohesion policy and measures to boost employment for young people, economic growth, innovation and social cohesion.
There is increasing need for structural reforms and flexibility in implementing the EU budget in order to address new challenges. Simplification should be the priority, such as simplifying access to the structural and investment funds.
It's important to make full use of the synergies between ESI funds, EFSI and other funding sources and financial instruments.
There is also a need for greater transparency towards citizens to ensure better visibility of cohesion policy results and European budget spending, as well as awareness raising about the EU's role.