We now have the statement by Mr. Barroso and by the legal services of the European Parliament on the supposed conflict of interests of the Bulgarian commissioner designate, Rumiana Jeleva. As I have promised, now I should deliver my own opinion on her candidature.
This is a difficult task since Mrs. Jeleva is a colleague – a lecturer at the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. But my purpose in this blog has always been to honestly monitor the Bulgarian participation in European affairs, and this case simply cannot be overlooked.
So the question stands – why Jeleva? Why her of all people? I do not have any idea. In fact, I have not heard of any substantial justification of her candidature. Once the scandal broke out there were some quite unclear statements by the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Mr. Boyko Borisov, saying that she is intelligent, competent, etc. But nobody actually assessed in public her personal qualities that matter for the job. That is why it was so difficult for me to evaluate her chances to get a serious portfolio – such as energy or the enlargement.
Later there were rumors. Mr. Borisov and other party officials at GERB – the ruling party, say that they knew early on about the staging of a campaign in the European Parliament against Mrs. Jeleva. This is very, very strange. If the Bulgarian officials knew about the pending disaster, why didn’t they prevent it??? So why choose Jeleva after all?
There is more. Let’s not forget where Bulgaria stands in the European Union. We are constantly associated with one word only in Brussels – and that is corruption. We are still aiming at entering Schengen area and the eurozone. We are trying to convince the European Commission that we can manage and control EU funds efficiently and transparently. Even one new speck on the tarnished image of Bulgaria can be overwhelming. What we got instead was some really, really bad coverage (see Economist’s Charlemagne, FT’s Tony Barber and Liberation’s Jean Quatremer among others).
The Jeleva affair may be treated as a sign of the times, given the greater powers of the European Parliament after the Treaty of Lisbon. But shouldn’t we be all the more careful keeping in mind the stronger position of the Parliament? How is Mrs. Jeleva supposed to work with the MEPs when many claim she is unacceptable?
Today may be the decisive moment for Mrs. Jeleva. She may or may not become a commissioner. But I demand a clear answer to one question only – why was Mrs. Rumiana Jeleva proposed as a Bulgarian candidate for commissioner?