The adoption of Europe’s single currency is a strategic move and a challenge for all of us


It is my pleasure to welcome the members of the Association of Banks in Bulgaria from the pages of our e-newsletter at the beginning of the new year.

We are looking ahead to 2024, the year in which we will face what will probably be the most important challenge for the next 366 days: preparing Bulgaria for membership in the eurozone. I believe that on 1 January 2025, Bulgaria will adopt the euro as its new national currency – and a symbol of our deeper integration with the European Union. I have no doubt that everyone in the country will work tirelessly to make this happen – the Government and the Parliament with the timely drafting and adoption of the necessary laws, so that we, the business community, have sufficient time to prepare and meet the requirements.

However, it is important to remember that a lot of work still remains to be done. In particular, the physical exchange of banknotes and coins will be a major logistical and financial challenge.

ABB will actively engage in an appropriate communication campaign as there are a number of unfounded concerns within our society. Such a campaign is all the more necessary to present to the Bulgarians the benefits of adopting the euro – an increase in prosperity and accelerated achievement of the average European standard of living. Among the positive aspects of this strategic move should be the absence of currency risk and currency conversion charges.

The other major topic that will affect all of us is the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives. The role of the banks is essentially to focus on the areas that we can influence the most in order to achieve a positive impact. Banks are key players in the green transformation, accelerating the path to carbon neutrality not only by decarbonising our own operations, but also by prioritising the financing of our clients’ projects. Environmental protection is the most obvious aspect of these initiatives, but far from the only one. We lead the way in promoting good governance, participation of women in management and the independence of our supervisory boards.

We have a responsibility not only to our shareholders and customers, but to the society as a whole. We therefore devote a great deal of time and resources to corporate social responsibility programmes. One of the most important among them is aimed at the the financial well-being of citizens, the financial sustainability of businesses, financial literacy, and its importance to the stability of society. I am convinced that we must continue to make strategic, long-term investments, especially in education and the financial literacy of young people. In this way we will be able to contribute to Bulgaria’s overall development and further improve the living and working environment, while at the same time enabling the development of the knowledge economy. Lifelong learning is the only road to success. Today’s children are born and raised in a digital and networked world, and we need to help them develop independent habits of responsible consumption, financial literacy, and cybersecurity.

Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen, with the lifting of air and sea border controls at the end of March 2024, is an enormous step forward; I am convinced that it is only a matter of time before land border controls are also lifted. For us as business representatives, it is important that Bulgaria’s other key priorities, such as the pursuit of a balanced fiscal and long-term tax policy and the implementation of the projects financed by the Recovery and Resilience Plan, are also pursued. An adequate allocation of funds under the RRP will ensure the achievement of the desired effect of accelerated recovery of the Bulgarian economy with a focus on the Green Deal and digitalisation. And at this point, I would be remiss if I do not mention how much we are investing in the digitalisation of our services and how important it is for the State to continue to develop its e-government. To give just one example, banks and financial institutions are among the biggest users of the services available from the Ministry of Electronic Governance and the RegiX environment.

As a Chairperson of the Association of Banks, I can say that we, as representatives of this key sector of the country’s economy, will continue to use the power of finance to drive positive change and build a world where economic prosperity and environmental well-being go hand in hand.