Juncker's team new star
Bulgarian government nominates MEP Mariya Gabriel for European Commissioner
13 May, 2017
At its first meeting, held on 10 May, the Bulgarian government nominated MEP Mariya Gabriel for the post of European Commissioner. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has informed President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker of the decision, the cabinet’s press office announced. In a letter to Juncker, Borisov reminds that the two officials discussed the topic in a telephone conversation a week ago. The Bulgarian premier also expresses confidence that thanks to her professional qualifications and considerable experience in the European Parliament, Mariya Gabriel will have a significant and valuable contribution to the Commission. “For me, this nomination is a vote of confidence and entails a responsibility to employ my expertise for the good of Bulgaria,” said Gabriel, who believes that the greatest challenge ahead is for Bulgaria to continue to be a unifying factor for various causes.
A MEP from Bulgaria’s ruling GERB party since 2009, Gabriel is vice-chair of the EPP Group in the EP since 2014. She is also vice-president of EPP Women and head of the Bulgarian EPP Delegation.
The Bulgarian MEP is also member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union, the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. In addition, Gabriel participates actively in debates in the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.
In 2015 the European Association of Communications Agencies awarded Gabriel the MEP Care Award for her contribution to social causes such as gender equality and women’s rights. In 2016 she received the Parliament Magazine's MEP Award in the Development category.
Gabriel, who will turn 38 on 20 May, has a bachelor’s degree in Bulgarian and French from Plovdiv University “Paisiy Hilendarski”, Bulgaria and a master’s degree in Comparative Politics and International Relations from the Institute of Political Sciences of Bordeaux, France.
Regarding the most pressing EU issue, Brexit, Gabriel says that the negotiations’ motto should be: “Citizens first!” Recently, she noted: “It is our duty to assuage their fears and provide concrete answers to, say, students from other Member States living in the UK under programmes such as Erasmus.” Gabriel believes that the EU should remain staunch defender of the four freedoms. “Brexit has its consequences and a Europe ‘a la carte’ scenario [the idea of a non-uniform method of European integration] is out of the question… The Brexit agreement is first in order and then a new partnership can be hammered out. A stable house is built from the ground up. The onus is on Member States to make sure that there are no parallel talks,” Gabriel says. She is of the opinion that the debate about Europe’s future should be open to the public and that a transparent and honest dialogue will counterbalance populism and help preserve the European project.
As a MEP, Gabriel heads various initiatives to combat human trafficking and is especially invested in the fate of migrant children whose traces are lost in Europe. She highlights the importance of prevention and uses the platform of different forums to call for the establishment of a centralised European registry in the efforts to combat this problem. As rapporteur for the recently endorsed by the EP proposal to exempt Ukrainian citizens from short-stay visa requirements, Gabriel supported the view that all countries meeting the European Commission’s criteria should be allowed the same privilege.
As rapporteur on a report on women’s rights within the Eastern Partnership, Gabriel has said that the increase of the participation of women in politics and in the democratisation processes in these countries is essential because they can contribute to the renewal of the political class and thus to the ongoing political transitions. She urged for investing in education and allowing women to develop their skills.
As European Commissioner, Gabriel will replace Kristalina Georgieva, who served as vice-president of the European Commission for budget and human resources before she stepped down at the end of last year to return to the World Bank. Gabriel’s area of responsibility will be determined by the president of the Commission. Well-respected among her peers, Gabriel is expected to pass her appointment hearing in the European Parliament without hiccups.