Saturday

22nd Jan 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Latest News

  1. Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules
  2. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  3. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  4. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  5. Macron promises strong EU borders
  6. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  7. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  8. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us