Bulgaria’s Parliament elected the new line-up of the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) on June 29, replacing the current members, whose terms expired in October 2015.
The regulator’s new chief is Yulia Nenkova, now deputy mayor of Sofia with a brief overseeing rule of law, co-ordination and control. After taking her oath, Nenkova said that her first actions would be to ask for an audit by the National Audit Office and the Public Financial Inspection Agency.
Speaking to reporters, Nenkova said that she would strive to have the CPC work transparently and consult experts to examine the prospect of tabling legal amendments that would make it easier for the regulator to fight cartels.
Nenkova was the only person nominated to head the CPC, prompting speculation in Bulgarian media that the commission’s line-up had been agreed by parliamentary parties in advance. She denied being a political appointment, saying she was not a member of GERB – the party that nominated her, which is the majority partner in the ruling coalition and also in control of Sofia city hall. Nekova also denied that there was any conflict of interest in her appointment – her son Alexander Nenkov is an MP for GERB.
Nenkova said that she accepted the nomination as a “professional challenge”. She spent most of her career as a legal adviser with Sofia city hall, rising to head of the legal affairs directorate of the city hall in 1999, but has also served as chairperson of the supervisory board of Bulgaria’s privatisation since 2010.
The MPs also elected Dimitar Kyumyurdjiev as deputy head of the CPC. Nominated by the nationalist Patriotic Front, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, Kyumyurdjiev has previous experience with the regulator, having served as a commissioner between 1997 and 2003.
The other five commissioners are GERB nominee Georgitsa Stoyanova and Krassimir Vitanov, nominated by the Reformist Bloc, as well as three nominees from opposition parties – Ana Yankova, nominated by the socialists; Plamen Kirov, nominated by the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms; and Krassimir Zafirov, nominated by the populist Bulgarian Democratic Centre group.
Four other nominees did not get the necessary votes for appointment, further stoking the suspicions that the process had been rigged in backroom deals. This was the second attempt to replace the CPC line-up, but the previous procedure had to be cancelled when the only nominee for commission chief withdrew from the process.
(Bulgaria’s National Assembly building. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)