Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, who will hold the post of Commission Vice-President, responsible for Budget and Human Resources, said that Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker chose her because of her independence.
Georgieva spoke to a small group of journalists after Juncker announced the appointments of the 27 commissioners. The announcement of her portfolio made big headlines in her home country, Bulgaria, where President Rossen Plevneliev expressed pride that for the first time, a Bulgarian had received such an important Commission portfolio. Previous EU portfolios held by Bulgarians are Consumer Protection, held by Meglena Kuneva between 2007 and 2009, and Humanitarian Aid, which Georgieva still holds.
Bulgarian caretaker Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki introduced Georgieva’s candidacy as soon as he took office, on 6 August.
Georgieva said she had learned about the possible appointment following a meeting between Plevneliev and Juncker during the 30-31 August EU summit. The summit decided on the appointment of Italian Prime Minister Federica Mogherini as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a post for which Georgieva was also a strong candidate.
Georgieva said that Juncker had chosen her because of her independence, because she is not a person who yields to pressure, be it from a government, a political party, or special interest groups.
Indeed, Georgieva, a former World Bank Vice President, has been away from her country long enough to be seen as detached from national politics. She was nominated for her first term by the centre-right government of then-Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, but has never been an activist for his party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria).
In his speech, Juncker said Georgieva has won the admiration of heads of state and governments and of MEPs, and who has been able to build an “impressive network” of international contacts during her current term in office.
“Just as Mr. Timmermans, Mrs Georgieva will have to work with all the commissioners,” Juncker said. According to organigrams of appointments, only Georgieva and Frans Timmermans, the Dutch First Vice President for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, Rule of Law and Charter of Fundamental Rights, have all the remaining commissioners reporting to them.
Georgieva said that all the commissioners knock on the door of the budget commissioner, and that she had been doing that as Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner.
She also said that her portfolio was unprecedented, since it amalgamated the responsibilities of the current budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, part of the portfolio of current Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Administration Maros Sefcovic, as well as Budget Control, that is, part of the portfolio of current commissioner Algirdas Šemeta .
She also said that she would be responsible for two General Directorates: DG Financial Programming and Budget and DG Human Resources and Security.
“This in itself means that I have in front of me a lot of work and heavy responsibilities. I will continue to put all my heart in my work, as I have done up to now,” she said.