site.btaWho Will Be Bulgaria's New EU Commissioner?
In a page-long unsigned article in its weekend issue, the 24 Chasa daily analyzes the options for Bulgaria's new member of the European Commission who should fill the vacancy opened by Mariya Gabriel after she resigned on May 15 and was elected Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs on June 6 (and, in nine months' time, a rotating prime minister).
Initially, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was not expected to ask Sofia for a new commissioner as the Commission's term expires in 2024. However, Von der Leyen informed Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov in a telephone conversation that they still expect a nomination, the Government Information Service reported on Thursday evening.
The newspaper writes that Continue the Change (CC) intend to nominate Daniel Lorer for the EU post, but GERB are unwilling to yield this position to their power-sharing partner. GERB are adamant that they should nominate Gabriel's successor or at least it should not be a prominent party figure, the analysis says.
Lorer was minister of innovation in Kiril Petkov's Cabinet (December 2021 - August 2022) and was considered again for that portfolio in the first version of the Denkov cabinet but was dropped out of the negotiations with GERB precisely as a prominent political figure and member of the CC leadership.
Besides this, CC are not part of any European political family, whereas GERB are an essential constituent of the European People's Party (EPP). To be appointed, a commissioner has to be supported by both the European Parliament and the European Council. The Council needs to approve the nomination unanimously, and there is a chance one of the eight EPP prime ministers may side with GERB if Lorer reaches that stage, 24 Chasa points out.
Yet another hurdle to his nomination as commissioner is von der Leyen's insistence on a female candidate from Bulgaria so as to keep the full gender parity in the EU executive, which now consists of 15 male and 12 female members.
The daily quotes sources in Brussels as saying that the Commission President will expect two names rather than one from Sofia, which has been an established practice when a Member State is in a serious crisis, as has been the case of Bulgaria in the last two years.
Gabriel's portfolios have been allocated to Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager (innovation and research) and Vice-President Margaritis Schinas (education, culture and youth). Hence, Bulgaria's new commissioner can hardly hope to be assigned these responsibilities again. It is not yet clear whether Denkov will negotiate the nomination with GERB.
As initially agreed, Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria and GERB-UDF are supposed to coordinate all executive appointments. Naming a EU commissioner, however, lies within the competence of the government itself, the daily explains.
Meanwhile, Socialist MEP Tsvetelina Penkova has argued that the next Bulgarian commissioner could even take over the energy portfolio if it is expanded. However, the remit will be determined only after the candidate is approved. Upon Bulgaria's accession to the EU, a new portfolio was even created for Meglena Kuneva, Consumer Protection, as she joined the Commission in the middle of its term in January 2007, 24 Chasa recalls.