New EU digital Commissioner adds cabinet members

New EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has hired cabinet members. [European Commission]

Less than one month after taking office, the newest EU Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, has filled several spots in her cabinet.

Gabriel’s head of cabinet is Lora Borissova, a Bulgarian official who previously worked at the EU External Action Service. Gabriel, who was an MEP until she was confirmed earlier this month as the newest Commissioner, was head of the Bulgarian delegation in the European Parliament’s centre-right European People’s Party.

Her deputy head of cabinet will be Carl-Christian Buhr, a German who last year became director of CERT-EU, the European Commission’s office in charge of responding to cybersecurity breaches.

Buhr’s appointment will put a tech heavyweight in Gabriel’s inner circle at a time when the Commission is drafting several pieces of new cybersecurity legislation.

In September, Gabriel and Andrus Ansip, the EU vice-president who oversees digital single market policies, will announce new legislation on certification for cybersecurity products, a new legal basis for ENISA, the bloc’s Athens-based cybersecurity agency, and an updated version of the four-year-old EU cybersecurity strategy.

Buhr was a cabinet member of former EU digital chief Neelie Kroes until 2014 and later joined the cabinet of EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Gabriel confirmed as new EU digital chief

Mariya Gabriel was confirmed Tuesday (4 July) as the next EU digital Commissioner and will become the youngest person ever to take on a top Commission post.

Sources close to the hiring process said Gabriel received a huge amount of job applications after she was announced as the new Commissioner. Job listings to fill Gabriel’s cabinet were not publicly advertised.

Other new appointees to Gabriel’s cabinet include Eric Peters, a French official who works in DG Connect, the Commission’s technology policy arm, and Andrea Almeida, Gabriel’s former assistant in the European Parliament.

Peters is deputy head of the digital single market unit at DG Connect. He worked as a cabinet member of former trade Commissioners Catherine Ashton and Peter Mandelson. Sources said Roberto Viola, the director of DG Connect, advocated for Peters to become an advisor to Gabriel.

Gabriel was confirmed by the European Parliament and national governments earlier this month. During a Parliament hearing in June, she answered MEP questions mostly in French and said that she would prioritise closing all the files that the Commission has already presented as part of its 16-point digital single market programme.

She will only serve half of a term—the current Commission’s mandate under President Jean-Claude Juncker expires in 2019.

Gabriel is 38 years old, making her the youngest ever EU Commissioner.

Bulgaria has been without a top representative at the Commission since the end of 2016. Kristalina Georgieva, the former EU vice-president from Bulgaria, left her post as budget chief to take a job at the World Bank.

Gabriel breezes through cozy hearing on way to top EU digital job

Mariya Gabriel, the 38-year-old Bulgarian MEP tipped to become the new EU digital chief, told MEPs during her approval hearing that she wants to “comply” with the European Commission’s policy priorities.

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