At its first meeting yesterday, the new government of Boyko Borisov nominated MEP Maria Gabriel for EU commissioner. The sphere of responsibilities of the new commissioner is not known yet, but is expected to be announced next week. The candidacy is yet to be voted on by the European Parliament, but the chances of a favorable and rapid outcome are now good. Bulgaria is on its way out of the embarrassing situation of not having a representative in the European Commission.
Bulgaria remained without a commissioner after Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva withdrew from the responsibilities of Deputy President of the European Commission and Budget and Human Resources Commissioner in order to take on a responsible position at the World Bank. This act, defined by some as unprecedented, not only deprived Bulgaria of the possibility of its representative to manage one of the most important areas of the EC, but also put it in a strange position of not having a commissioner on the eve of its presidency of the European Council. The withdrawal of Georgieva from the position also caused inconvenience for the EC that had to make changes in other sectors too.
In the context of these circumstances, the nomination of Maria Gabriel as a commissioner can also be seen as a normalization of the Bulgarian representation in the governing bodies of the European Commission. That should have been the understanding in Brussels, as EC head, Jean-Claude Juncker, personally insisted that Prime Minister Borissov speeds up the nomination.
Chances of affirming the position of the new Bulgarian commissioner look great even before the formal procedures in this regard have begun. Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the EP welcomed the nomination. The responsibilities that are to be entrusted to Maria Gabriel are still unknown, but it is unofficially claimed that she would be responsible for digitization. European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who took over this post after Günther Oettinger took up the responsibilities of Kristalina Georgieva, commented that it would be good if the Bulgarian commissioner started working in the digitization sphere, which hinted of already existing plans.
While in Brussels reactions seem positive, in Sofia at this stage they are not unambiguous. The partners of the government, The United Patriots Coalition, welcomed the nomination with confidence that as a young and ambitious MEP with considerable experience, Maria Gabriel would handle well all responsibilities she is entrusted with. However, the left opposition in Bulgaria voiced criticism that the sphere of digitization was far from the importance of the responsibilities of Bulgaria before. The MRF said it would support the government's bid, but wanted to clarify "the responsibility of the Council of Ministers for the fact that Bulgaria had no EU commissioner for some 9 months."
Ultimately, however, these disagreements on the subject are for domestic political use. It is clear that the opposition will support the new Bulgarian nomination for EU commissioner, as it has already vowed to support the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of the next year.
English: Alexander Markov