Those in power intend nominating Sergei Stanishev, the Bulgarian Socialist Party leader who has quit the National Assembly to take up a seat as an MEP, to the new post of European Commissioner for Immigration, centre-right opposition leader Boiko Borissov claimed on July 4.
Asked by reporters in the corridors of the National Assembly how he knew this, Borissov said: “Want to bet?”
International media reports on July 3 said that the new European Commission, to be nominated and voted on over the next two months, would include an immigration portfolio.
In Bulgaria, there has been considerable controversy about the nomination of the country’s European Commissioner. Earlier, the government signalled that it indicated that it intended going ahead with making the nomination on its own, something the opposition said that it had no moral right to do given the thorough defeat of the Bulgarian Socialist Party – holder of the mandate to govern – in the May European Parliament elections.
Bulgaria is to hold early national parliamentary elections on October 5, and indications are that the government currently intends resigning on a date between July 23 and 25.
At a June meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security, leaders of political parties agreed that they should come up with consensus on the principles and rules to govern the nomination of Bulgaria’s European Commissioner. But there has been ongoing turbulence since that meeting, with mutual accusations of reneging on this and other agreements reached at the meeting.
On July 2, Plamen Oresharski – occupant of the prime minister’s seat in the BSP cabinet – said that he would resign at the end of the month, only after holding consultations with EU leadership on the Bulgarian candidate European Commissioner.
Atanas Merdzhanov, Stanishev’s successor as head of the BSP parliamentary group, said on July 4 that the choosing the Bulgarian European Commissioner was solely within the power of the government.
To questions about Borissov’s statement that Stanishev was to be nominated to the Commission’s immigration portfolio, Merdzhanov said he was being asked to comment on “some ramblings that are not based on any credibility, but only on some kind of rumours and gossip”.
The Consultative Council on National Security meeting did not specify a date by which political leaders should come up with an agreement about the rules and principles on nominating the country’s European Commissioner, but effectively this should happen by the mid-July special European Council meeting of heads of state and government that will discuss Commission nominations.
Media reports in Bulgaria have raised various scenarios, including Bulgaria putting forward its current Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, possibly in the hope of securing a more weighty portfolio.
Reports also have suggested that influential circles in Brussels have advised Bulgaria not to nominate Stanishev, given that he would be highly likely to face very sharp questions at a European Parliament confirmation hearing.