July 10, 2015, Sofia
Transcript of speech

EUcommissioner Thank you very much Renne (Traicova) and special guests here this morning at this important event. I am sorry that I’ve gotten you up so early this morning but 8am is a good time to drink tea. And I am an Irish man and we are the highest consumers of tea, I am told per capita in the world, so if you pass the Irish test with your tea you are doing well.

When Renne was telling me about this initiative of social empowerment here in Bulgaria and in Sofia I was very anxious to see it and hear about it. I have always been a strong supporter of community initiatives and particularly through education. The EU Commission of Agriculture of which I am the Commissioner has various programs in order to help communities to develop rural development projects which would create jobs through agriculture and through products you’re your herbs and lavender of which we speak about today. The organizers of this initiative will certainly be able to get access to information about how you could be supported in your work though rural development measures. So the objectives that you have said are very ambitious but obviously of course when you have a professor and three ladies involved anything is possible.

I am here today to land my support in a personal and political way towards your initiative. I wish the project every success and I look forward to the day when lavender and all of the species of herbs that you have in such in abundance in Bulgaria will be marketed in a normal way not just in Bulgaria but throughout the European Union and throughout the world.

It’s an honor to meet the representatives of the four communities who are participating in the project. I would ask you to stick with the project and in times of difficulty that you are in a position to say that this is worthwhile. This is not just about helping yourselves to hopefully get some additional income in the future but also jobs in the future for your children. Finally I look forward to hearing progress reports in relation to how this project is developing and how all of the activity in rural areas that you are going to generate is actually leading to jobs and growth and greater leading standards in many of the communities here in Bulgaria.

This is my first time in Bulgaria and what better way to start than supporting a very important new community initiative for rural areas. Best of luck for the future!