Bulgaria has finally nominated a candidate to replace Kristalina Georgieva as its European Commissioner, following a four month gap where the country went unrepresented.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov this morning (10 May) informed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he has chosen his candidate to replace Kristalina Georgieva as the country’s Commissioner.
It follows a phone call last week when they both agreed a new Commissioner should be nominated as soon as possible.
Borissov revealed that his choice is Mariya Gabriel, a member of the European Parliament who is also deputy chairman of the EPP Group. She is a member of several Parliament committees, including those on civil liberties and relations with the Maghreb countries.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva confirmed that Gabriel was the official nomination.
Juncker will meet with Gabriel next week in Strasbourg in order to evaluate her suitability for the role and, if she meets the criteria for the job, what portfolio she should be given. She will then face questions from the European Parliament and will need the Council to sign off on her appointment too.
She will hope to continue a long tradition of Bulgarian Commissioners only being female.
Georgieva, who left the European Commission at the end of last year after she was offered the job of CEO by the World Bank and an unsuccessful attempt to become the next United Nations Secretary-General, held the Budget and Human Resources portfolio.
Those duties have since been reallocated to German Commissioner Günther Oettinger, whose former portfolio went to Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who has been handling all things digital since January.
Following Borissov’s resignation in November, after his GERB party’s presidential candidate was roundly beaten by Rumen Radev, the caretaker government of Ognyan Gerdzhikov refused to nominate a new Commissioner in order to fulfil its constitutional obligations of creating suitable conditions for new elections.
Those elections were held in late March and Borissov duly returned to power, as his pro-EU centre-right party defeated the Socialist Party (BSP).
The former firefighter will hope his nomination is accepted by Juncker. Borissov has an unhappy record of putting forward candidates that are then rejected, including Rumiana Jeleva, who failed to get the backing of the European Parliament in 2010.
Bulgaria has suffered from its lack of representation since Georgieva’s resignation. For the first time, it did not get an advanced copy of the Commission’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), when it was published in January. Former Foreign Minister Solomon Passy said that Sofia felt that it had lost “its eyes and ears” in Brussels.