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Andrey Novakov is a Bulgarian Member of the European Parliament from the EPP Group. He is coordinator in the Committee on Regional Development and part of three other committees – the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Transport & Tourism and the Committee on Budgetary Control. 

A lawyer by education, Andrey became the youngest member of the European Parliament (2014-2019) upon taking up his duties. He was featured in the Politics category of the Forbes 30 under 30 list of the most successful young people in 2016.  He is passionate about aviation and trains and is a proud father.

Mr Novakov MEP you are one of the initiators for the creation of databases for vehicle mileage data so that countries can exchange this data internationally. What is its current stage of development and what benefits will there be from its implementation?

My team and I came to this idea for a shared information platform back in 2018. We were working really hard trying to figure out a solution to the long-term challenge related to the sales of second-hand vehicles and the technical condition of the cars on this market. 

As you might be aware, independent research and analysis show that the average age of vehicles in Europe is 11 years and up to 50% of the used cars on sale suffer frommanipulated mileage data. This is an issue, which I believe directly affects the road safety and the frequency of accidents.

As in many other cases, the solution for this challenge is in the data collection and exchange through a sharing platform, accessible for all players in the process. Therefore, we elaborated on the idea and submitted it as a pilot project financed by the European Union. 

Today, almost three years later, the system is already in place and ready for use. It is voluntary, easy and accessible for the national authorities from all Member States. Moreover, it is completely free of charge. It is now open for data from all EU countries in order to reveal the technical condition of cars resold in the EU. 

There are a few volunteer Member States that will soon start exchanging data but we need as many Member States as possible. The more data, the better the platform. We work in close cooperation with the European Commission and I hope that in the coming months the EU will have an internal and trusted source of information, generated by the Member States and in great use to them. 

What is the effectiveness of the Mobility Package and does it coordinate well with ecological considerations?

The legislation, largely known as “Mobility Package I”, has driven wide discussions, even if we acknowledge the good reason for its existence in the first place – a way to fight the so-called “social dumping” in the sector and the development of some disputable aspects in the process of its elaboration. 

It is not a secret that the Member States are divided, to put it mildly, in their opinion regarding some rules that generate discrimination and show signs of protectionism. We are expecting developments following the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU. This is a result of the claims of several Member States against the obligatory return of the trucks every eight weeks. Bulgaria and the like-minded countries from Eastern Europe called on the Commission to produce an impact assessment. 

The bottom line is that the movement of thousands of empty trucks across Europe is nonsense in light of the Green Deal and the EU ambitions to reduce CO2 emissions. We are politicians, not scientists but already two years ago, we said two things: this regulation is harmful to the environment and it causes more problems than solutions. It is definitely not in favour of the fair competition, EU climate policy objectives and the single market. 

Currently, after over a year of waiting, the impact assessment confirmed officially that “Mobility Package I” would negatively affect citizens, the climate and the economy. What is important now is to follow the next move of the European Commission.

You recently invited colleagues from the EPP in Bulgaria, what are their impressions from the visit?

It was a great pleasure to welcome my EPP Group colleague Sven Simon in Bulgaria and especially in my constituency, the South-West region, where I serve as a political party coordinator for the region. 

His presence in Bulgaria and the support to the party leader and formal Prime Minister Boyko Borisov were very much appreciated. It is not only a matter of good partnership between fellow colleagues, but also a great support in the run-up to the election campaign in Bulgaria. 

The year was quite hard in terms of internal political developments and all of us are now looking forward to the November elections, to the next Bulgarian President and, hopefully, to a stable government. 

As there are Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria for the third time this year, we must ask, what are your views and expectations? How do you see the political situation at the moment?

The political situation in Bulgaria is complicated. I know that it might sound pessimistic. I am sure that each state has its local political turbulences, but this is the currently ongoing state of play in Bulgaria and I could give a few more details about it. 

The COVID-19 crisis caused many complications worldwide and affected crucial to the economy sectors and businesses on a local and EU level. Dealing with all the challenges related to the health crisis, which has rapidly turned to an economic one, requires implementation of the so-called “non-popular measures”, widely attacked by the community. This, happening just a few months before parliamentary elections, created a “toxic” political landscape. It is full of populist, unrealistic messages, promises made by opposition and newly emerging players on the political scene. 

In addition to that, the government had to prepare the institutions, business sector and communities for the challenges on an EU level, especially the transition to a carbon neutral economy and all the measures required for the achievement of the long-term European ambitions in reducing pollution and CO2 emissions. 

A true democracy is when people elect the parties and players and mandate them to form a government that combines honest representation of the public views and a clear perspective for reforms leading to growth. This goal seems to be impossible and resulted in three rounds of general elections within 7 months.

What we need the most, I believe, is political wisdom and consensus. We live in tough times and we cannot afford to lose precious time and public resources by arguing about insignificant local and short-term challenges. Instead, we should invest our efforts on solutions and concepts which would enable politicians to set long-term objectives and establish a predictable environment for business development and investments.

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Ivan Botoucharov
Ivan has proud Bulgarian roots and has been fortunate to live and study in Bulgaria, the USA, Italy and the UK. He works as an Executive at Colliers (Global Top 3 Commercial Real Estate), where he leads the team managing Digital Innovation in Europe, Middle East and Africa, which includes 150 offices in 42 countries. Ivan has studied at universities in the UK (UEA and LMU) and the USA (UCLA), and holds a full Chartered status from the Institute of Marketing, granted by authority of The Queen’s Privy Council. During and after his studies Ivan co-founded and led OneEurope, which became Europe’s largest citizens media under his tenure. In the course of his EDS career Ivan has been the head of the UK delegation since 2017 as well as 1st Vice-Chair with a historical record number of votes. He currently serves as the Secretary General of EDS. Ivan is the Chair of the UK organisation in EDS - the Young Conservative European Forum. He also serves on the Board of Executives in their parent organisation, which enjoys the support of 70 Conservative Members of Parliament and the House of Lords.