Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Budget commissioner Georgieva leaves for UN campaign

  • Georgieva leaves as negotiations on the EU budget are reaching a final stage. (Photo: European Commission)

EU budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva is taking unpaid leave to campaign for the post of UN secretary general after being chosen as Bulgaria's candidate.

Her duties will be taken over by Guenther Oettinger, the German EU commissioner in charge of digital economy, just as negotiations on the EU 2017 budget and the revision of the EU budget for 2014-2020 are reaching a final stage.

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Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov picked Georgieva, who was in charge of humanitarian aid in the previous commission, to replace Irina Bokova as the country's candidate.



Bokova, the current head of UN cultural body UNESCO, came sixth in a straw poll among the 15 members of the UN security council on Monday, making her an outsider for the job.

Antonio Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister and current UN high commissioner for refugees, came first in the poll. Slovakia's foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak came in second.

Georgieva said in statement that she was "deeply honoured" and "mindful" of the great responsibility, opportunities and challenges of the UN position.

Speculation about Georgieva's UN bid had been around for several months, and were heightened in early September when Martin Selmayr, the head of cabinet of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, endorsed a possible candidacy.

"Kristalina would make strong UNSG, and many Europeans proud," he said in a message posted on Twitter.

According to a UN practice, it is Europe's turn to hold the secretary general position. Russia, a security council permanent member with a veto power, said it would prefer an Eastern European, triggering rumours of a possible veto on Guterres.

Russian support for Georgieva, a vice-president of the EU commission, is not guaranteed. But Borissov announced her candidacy a day after speaking with Russian president Vladimir Putin, which could mean he had some assurances from Moscow.

If Georgieva were to be chosen, she would be the second commissioner to leave the Juncker commission, after Britain's Jonathan Hill quit in June following the Brexit vote in the UK.

The commission said on Wednesday that Georgieva would take an unpaid leave "during the month of October", although the UN process could last longer.

"During this period, Kristalina Georgieva and the European Commission will ensure a strict separation between activities relating to her candidacy and her work as member of the college [of commissioners] in a fully transparent manner," commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

EU prepares to let commissioner go to UN

EU budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva is increasingly emerging as Europe's top candidate for the prestigious UN secretary general post.

Eurozone bank needs more scrutiny, says NGO

Transparency International says eurozone's central bank is not subject to "appropriate democratic scrutiny" and should have no say on EU bailout projects.

Analysis

From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Opinion

Birthday wishes to the European Union

With the EU soon to celebrate its 60th birthday, there are still lingering questions about the bloc's future and whether there can be a change in fortune.

News in Brief

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  2. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  3. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  4. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  5. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  6. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  7. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  8. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany

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