Bulgaria nominates MEP Maria Gabriel to be European Commissioner

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has informed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that the Cabinet is nominating Maria Gabriel, a member of the European Parliament, to be the country’s European Commissioner, the government press office said on May 10.

The decision was made at the first regular Cabinet meeting after the third Borissov government took office.

Bulgaria’s seat on the European Commission has been vacant since the resignation of Kristalina Georgieva took effect on January 1 2017. Georgieva announced in October 2016 that she was leaving the Commission to become the chief executive of the World Bank.

The government statement quoted Borissov as telling Juncker – with whom he discussed the issue of the nomination on May 5 – that “thanks to her professional qualities and long experience in the European Parliament, I am convinced that Maria Gabriel will make an important and valuable contribution to the work of the Commission”.

Gabriel is 37. After completing high school in Kyustendil, she graduated in 2001 in Bulgarian and French language studies at Paisii Hilandarski University in Plovdiv.

She continued her studies at the Institute of Political Studies in Bordeaux (France), where she studied International Relations, History of the European Institutions, Political Sociology and Comparative Politics.

In 2003 she obtained a master’s degree in ‘Comparative Politics and International Relations’ from the Post-Graduate School of Political Science of Bordeaux (France).

From 2004 to 2008, Gabriel was a teaching and research assistant at the Institute of Political Studies in Bordeaux (France).

A two-time member of the European Parliament on the ticket of Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, first elected in 2009, Gabriel is vice-president of the European People’s Party Group and Head of the Bulgarian delegation in the EPP Group.

She is a member of the European Parliament’s committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, a member of 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.

If confirmed to serve on the Commission, Gabriel will be Bulgaria’s third European Commissioner since the country joined the European Union in January 2007, and it will be the third time that the post has been held by a woman. Before being confirmed, she will subject to a hearing by the European Parliament.

Gabriel will not inherit Georgieva’s portfolio of budget and human resources, which as of January 1 is held by Günther Oettinger. There has been speculation that Gabriel will be given the portfolio of digitalisation.



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.