MEPs to decide Bulgarian candidate's fate

Source: EUobserver (EUOBSERVER) i, published on Tuesday, January 19 2010, 9:24.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The fate of Bulgarian commission nominee Rumiana Jeleva i is to be decided on Tuesday (18 January) at a behind-closed-doors meeting of MEPs on the development committee, after parliament lawyers said her financial declaration is broadly in line with the rules.

A conclave of the political groups' representatives in the development committee on Monday evening in Strasbourg failed to agree whether to give a negative or positive assessment based on her public hearing last week.

The centre-right European People's Party, the largest group within the legislature, continues to back Ms Jeleva. But a coalition of Socialists, Liberals and Greens remains opposed.

"I welcome the finding by the European Parliament's legal services that the declarations of interest by Rumiana Jeleva conform fully to the Code of Conduct for members of the European Commission," the EPP's point man for thehearings, Hungarian MEP Jozsef Szajer, said.

The parliament's legal opinion says that the declaration lodged by Ms Jeleva with the EU commission complies with the regulations. But it indicates that there may be problems with two other statements she filed while a member of the EU parliament from 2007 to 2009.

"The term 'nothing to declare' in the declarations of 12 November 2007 and of 13 January 2009 may give rise to a discrepancy ...wherein Ms Jeleva signed the relevant financial documents as manager of [Bulgarian privatisation firm] Global Consult," it says.

Separately from the integrity issue, the anti-Jeleva camp has questioned her professional skills and knowledge about the dossier she would be in charge of - humanitarian aid.

If the development committee gives the nominee a negative assessment, it can in theory be overruled by political group leaders on Thursday.

But if the Socialist-Liberal-Green coalition stick to its guns, it may create a dispute with the EPP that will see the centre-right faction try to take down a Socialist or Liberal nominee in return.

One Liberal candidate, the Netherlands' Neelie Kroes, who is to take up the telecoms and internet regulation portfolio, stands out as a target following a shaky hearing last week. Ms Kroes is to meet the industry committee again on Tuesday, this time behind closed doors.

A socialist nominee, Slovakia's Maros Sefcovic, has already faced an EPP attack - on the basis of alleged anti-Roma comments - but appeared to fend it off at his cross-examination on Monday.

The last two hearings - with Swedish liberal Cecilia Malmstrom and Greek socialist Maria Damanaki - are due on Tuesday morning.


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