Yesterday I observed with great care the hearing of commissioner designate Rumiana Jeleva in the Development Committee of the European Parliament (you can watch the record online here; a summary is available here).
The hearing can be divided in two thematic parts.
The first part concerned allegations of conflict of interest due to ownership of private companies that was not declared before the European Parliament. The issue was raised by the MEPs Thijs Berman, Michael Cashman and Judith Sargentini. In response Mrs. Jeleva repeatedly said that she has nothing to hide, that there are institutions in Bulgaria and that the institutions have not found any evidence of wrongdoing. Surprisingly Mrs. Jeleva went on to say that Mrs. Antonia Parvanova, a MEP from ALDE, has written a letter to the European Commission with unfounded allegations. This prompted a point of order to give the floor to Mrs. Parvanova. Mrs. Parvanova repeated that Mrs. Jeleva did have a conflict of interest. Mrs. Jeleva replied that the company in question did not have any business activity in the recent years. Some documents were distributed by aides of Mrs. Jeleva, but the chair – Mrs. Joly, had them taken from the MEPs later.
The second part was more focused on the so-called “technical questions” that in fact dealt with the portfolio itself. Unfortunately Mrs. Jeleva failed to produce specific answers to many questions. She was fighting with the English language. The answers were characterized as “vague and rambling” by the European Voice.
Later it came out that the coordinators of the Development Committee have requested two sets of advice – one from Jose 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.
Meanwhile the Financial Times Deutschland ran an article claiming that Mrs. Jeleva has withheld important information from the European Parliament.
I will provide commentary on the hearing once we have the conclusions of Mr. Barroso and the legal services of the European Parliament.