Background

 

 

After hearing the coordinators of the Development Committee have requested two sets of advice – one from EC President José Manuel Barroso, which is to be delivered within 24 hours, and one from the legal services in the European Parliament, which has no particular deadline. The final decision on whether the Development Committee of the EP is going to support the confirmation of the Bulgarian EU Commissioner-Designate Rumiana Jeleva is going to be made on Monday, January 18, 2010. The meeting of the political coordinators of the Development Committee is scheduled for that day, and a decision will be made based on the still awaited ruling of the legal services of the EU on whether Jeleva was indeed involved in a conflict of interests, as well as based on the competences that she demonstrated during Tuesday’s hearing with regard to her portfolio. However ongoing heated debate concerning whether Jeleva is competent and prepared enough for EU commissioner has already put in a difficult position both the EC President José Manuel Barroso and the European People's Party (EPP). Jeleva's performance apparently dealt also a severe blow to the country's national pride, generating an unprecedented storm of reactions in the Bulgarian political circles and media.

 

 

Analysis and Consequences

 

  • Bulgarian Commissioner-Designate Rumiana Jeleva did present herself poorly at the hearing before the members of the European parliament. Despite her professional background she was unable to answer in logical and timely manner any of the questions which the MPs asked.
  •  Her failure will inflict the image of the European Commission, of Bulgaria as a European member state and the image of GERB as a modern, professional party. GERB`s leader and PM Boiko Borisov has a very limited reservoir experts and tried at first to support Jeleva despite her fault. However even he realized later that Jeleva`s nominee was a serious mistake. If Borisov decides to support Jeleva regardless of the public and political outcry her incompetence will reflect on the image of the country as well as on the new EC.
  •  If Borisov decides to revoke her nominee Jeleva will return to Bulgaria on her position as Minister of Foreign affairs and will probably have to leave that position as well. Bulgaria media speculated already that Borisov is ready to support the nominee of the current Minister of Defense Nikolay Mladenov, a very literate young expert and former MEP.
  • However Mladenov himself denied that rumor in the press. President of the EC José Manuel Barroso could not openly criticize the unsatisfactory nominee of Jeleva, but he cannot support her any longer and will probably ask Mrs. Jeleva to withdraw. The only problem is that Boiko Borisov does not have a “plan B” in the current situation, no other prominent, professional and trustworthy diplomat for the position. If he decides to nominee Mladenov, not one but two important ministries will be stripped off their political leadership without reasonable replacements.  
  • This is the first international failure of the new Bulgarian government and prompt reaction is indispensable in order the reputation of the country in Europe not to be additionally worsen.