Bulgarian nominee acquits herself well


JOSÉ MANUEL Barroso’s incoming European Commission cleared one of its final hurdles after Bulgaria’s new nominee delivered a self-assured performance at her confirmation hearing in the European Parliament.

The new commission now appears increasingly likely to win parliament’s endorsement in a vote next Tuesday in Strasbourg, ending an interregnum that has continued since the mandate of the outgoing executive expired last October.

While the union grapples with a new economic strategy and institutional reforms under the newly enacted Lisbon Treaty, sitting commissioners have been working in a caretaker capacity for more than three months.

The new executive cannot take office without the approval of the entire parliament, which is empowered to vote down the entire team if it finds any single candidate unacceptable.

The parliament deployed this power with vigour at confirmation hearings last month, when doubtful MEPs made it clear they would not accept the original Bulgarian candidate, Rumiana Jeleva.

Bulgaria’s new nominee, Kristalina Georgieva, was chosen for the same international co-operation, humanitarian aid and crisis response portfolio that Ms Jeleva was to occupy.

Although the centre-right European People’s Party had tried to salvage Ms Jeleva’s candidacy, a coalition of Liberal, Green and Socialist MEPs made it clear they would not accept her and her nomination never went to a vote of the development committee.

Ms Georgieva, a vice-president of the World Bank, won support from these key constituencies after her own hearing before the committee. She was confident in her answers and demonstrated a solid knowledge of development issues, MEPs said.

As the last of 27 commissioners designate to go before the parliament, the ratification process is all but complete.

“We thought she had all the competencies and qualities required to do the job very well,” said Dutch MEP Thijs Berman, the Socialist group co-ordinator on the development committee.

“She showed full mastery of the subject and she was a good communicator. It was a great relief.”

The Greens are also supporting her nomination.

“Kristalina Georgieva left no doubt that she is the right woman for the job,” said Dutch MEP Judith Sargenti, one of Ms Jeleva’s most ardent critics in the Green group.