Bulgaria’s Borissov wants the ecology or regional development Commissioner portfolio

Jean-Claude Juncker and Boyko Borissov on 7 March 2016. [European Council]

Following the resignation of Bulgarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, the country’s Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov, said that he would discuss her replacement with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today (31 October).

Georgieva resigned on 28 October to take a job in the World Bank.

Georgieva resigns to join World Bank

Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva resigned on Friday (28 October) to take a job at the World Bank. EURACTIV France reports.

Her departure from the EU executive was not a surprise, as she had been campaigning for UN Secretary-General, although the Code of Commissioners does not allow the members of the executive to seek other employment.

Speaking in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city yesterday, Borissov said Georgieva had fully fulfilled her duties, as the EU budget for Bulgaria had grown substantially.

“From €12 billion, the budget for Bulgaria became 15 billion for the next years, so Kristalina Georgieva has fulfilled her role on budgeting. Now we need someone in the spheres of ecology or regional development, when Bulgaria has more needs,” he said.

In fact, the EU budgeting for 2013-2020 was decided during the previous EU Commission, led by José Manuel Barroso and Georgieva hardly had any influence on Bulgaria’s share of it, as her portfolio then was humanitarian aid.

It is also highly questionable if a country should be “given” a Commissioner in the areas where it needs the most assistance.

Regional policy currently falls under Romanian Commissioner Corina Crețu, while environment falls under Maltese Commissioner Karmenu Vella, who also covers maritime affairs and fisheries. It is unclear if Borissov was taking aim at these Commissioners.

However, Borissov’s statements could be interpreted as saying he has no intention of proposing a candidate who could cover the same portfolio as Georgieva. It is widely assumed that the budget portfolio will go to Germany’s Günther Oettinger, upon the insistence of Angela Merkel, who would seek to have more control over the Brexit talks.

If this is the case, Oettinger would probably have to abandon his digital economy portfolio. If a future Bulgarian candidate is not right for the digital portfolio, Juncker would then have to reshuffle portfolios, at the mid-term of his mandate.

Bulgaria will hold a presidential election on 6 November, with a second round on 13 November. Borissov has said he will resign if his candidate, Tsetska Tsacheva, loses the election.

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It looks like the battle between Tsacheva and the candidate of the opposition socialists, General Rumen Radev, is unpredictable. As Georgieva needs to be replaced by January, it is not impossible that another premier will propose the next Bulgarian Commissioner.

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