The concept of economic security has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, with the rise of global geopolitical competition, and in particular with Russia’s weaponization of its oil and gas supplies to Europe to aid its war of aggression against Ukraine. Based on these concerns and taking inspiration from its Member States, the EU refocused its efforts from developing a common set of coordination instruments, such as investment screening, sanctions and anti-money laundering, to setting out a strategy on economic security based on three main policy strands – promoting competitiveness, protecting ourselves and partnering with others.
In Bulgaria, persistent rule of law deficits, low policy and administrative capacity, capital scarcity, and low investment attractiveness compounded by a tradition of unchecked investments from authoritarian regimes and offshore havens have led to the country becoming one of Europe’s most vulnerable economies to malign foreign influence and corrosive capital inflows. Although the government has recently taken steps to implement the EU’s FDI Screening Regulation and a draft law for introducing a national screening mechanism is pending second reading in parliament, the country still remains one of the two EU Member States without such a mechanism and institutional practice in place. Beside speeding up the process of introducing the screening mechanism, Bulgaria urgently needs to reassess its economic security policy and adopt a national economic security strategy with concrete measures to identify and mitigate potential risks, a clear definition of responsible authorities and their tasks, and designation of a focal point to coordinate their activities.