“It’s hypocrisy to claim the crisis took us by surprise. EU governments knew their loose fiscal policies, coupled with administrative corruption and black markets on the ground will inevitably lead Greece and others to the edge of the cliff – and they did nothing to prevent it.”
That’s what researchers pointed out while presenting in Sofia their in-depth survey on the expansion of illegal economic activities in the bloc over the past decade.
Instead of boosting EU Stability Fund to 1 trillion euros, officials should have curbed shady economic practices to which EU loses up to 2 trillion euros annually, experts believe. They say, the combination of tougher austerity measures and eroding social security is a devastating burden for ordinary citizens.
Premier Borisov realizes this, and that’s why he opposes small and poor countries like Bulgaria to contribute to saving bigger and richer economies which have gone out of control. He calls the Eurozone “union of debt”, and says Bulgaria will only lose by joining it.
The lack of such discipline has led to the flourishing of illegal trade of everything – from alcohol and cigarettes, glasses and prescription-only medicine, which are harmful not only to national GDP, but more importantly – to people’s health – to clothing, food, equipment, utilities – with doubtful origin and no taxes paid.
Here we are, at one of the most infamous places for illegal trading in downtown Sofia. It’s called “Zhenski Pazar”, or Women’s market.
Even Tiery from Paris has heard of it, and has come to see it personally.
And it’s not hard to find it. In a country which produces 30% of EU national GDP and is the least competitive state in the bloc, people are paid 6 times less than EU average and alternative markets like this are growing by the hour. The result – Bulgaria’s share of gray economy accounts for nearly 40% of GDP, the highest in the EU.