The Barroso II Commission must wait yet a little longer to see the light of day, after Bulgaria’s member designate in the European Union executive body threw in the sponge. Rumiana Jeleva withdrew her candidacy after some members of the European Parliament made clear they would not support her appointment as humanitarian aid commissioner.
The 40-year-old Bulgarian foreign minister’s competence to handle the European portfolio and her business links at home were called into question during her approval hearing before MEPs last week. Her failure to convince the Socialists and Greens was a blow to the reputation of the EU’s poorest member state.
The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) had strongly backed Jeleva. The group’s president, Joseph Daul, said: “I don’t believe that the Bulgarian candidate lacked the capacities to be a good commissioner, on the contrary I believe she was the victim of a little, rather pathetic political war.”
The president of the Socialist group in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, did not accept Daul’s premise. Schulz said: “I find it’s not a battle between the political groups, but rather that the EPP doesn’t want to comprehend that they are the strongest group in Parliament but they don’t have a majority.”
To replace Jeleva, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov put forward Kristalina Georgieva, a senior World Bank official. The work of Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, serving a second term of office, with a new line-up of commissioners, will now be delayed beyond its Feb. 1 planned start.