Friday

20th Oct 2017

Bulgarian commissioner fields easy questions at MEP hearing

  • Mariya Gabriel promised “dialogue and compromise”. (Photo: European Parliament)

Bulgaria's candidate for the European Commission sailed through a hearing at the European Parliament on Tuesday (20 June) as MEPs accepted her broad statements and promises without much criticism.

Members of the European Parliament's industry and culture committees held a common meeting to see if Mariya Gabriel, an outgoing MEP herself, is fit to become the EU commissioner for digital economy and society.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • “A two-year mandate is short," said Gabriel. (Photo: European Parliament)

The 2.5-hour hearing saw Gabriel promising to involve the EU parliament, to aim for “dialogue and compromise” and to “complete the digital single market”.

But she kept her statements very general and uncontroversial.

Czech MEP Evzen Tosenovsky, from the mildly eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists group, wanted to know if Gabriel still supported the commission proposal to transform the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) into a fully fledged EU agency.

The plan is controversial and seems to lack a majority, both in the parliament and among member states, needed before the plan can become law.

Gabriel did not say whether she still wants BEREC to become an agency, instead saying that she would seek a “common fundament that will allow us to move forward”.

“I'm very aware of the need to have further discussion because today there are different positions between the institutions,” she said.

When asked how artists should be paid for their work, now that many consumers enjoy their creations through online platforms, Gabriel said she didn't want a “situation where only the platforms gain”, but didn't outline concretely how she would prevent that.

The Bulgarian also said that there should be “free movement of data” in the EU, but said she could not yet say how the commission wants to achieve that, because it is still working on an impact assessment.

“I can reassure you that the impact study is in the pipeline … I can't say more than that,” she said.

She said the phenomenon of fake news was nothing new, and that new technologies should be approached with "enthusiasm and optimism".

Gabriel also spoke out against "over-regulation" of online platforms like Uber and Airbnb.

"I think that within the dialogue with the platforms there is more space for voluntary measures," she said.

MEPs did not press hard and gave her a broad applause when she spoke up on European values and gender equality.

The hearing was effectively one among peers, as Gabriel has been a member of the EU parliament herself since 2009. She will have to leave the parliament when she formally becomes commissioner.

The Bulgarian is a member of the largest political group, the centre-right European People's Party, which holds 216 of 751 seats.

She needs to be approved by a majority of MEPs at a plenary vote, expected for the Strasbourg session in two weeks.

Gabriel will then become responsible for the digital economy and society portfolio, which had been left behind when German EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger was put in charge of the budget and human resources file.

Oettinger took over on budget from Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria's commissioner who left last year to join the World Bank.

The 38-year-old Gabriel will have a mandate until Jean-Claude Juncker's team leaves office in 2019.

“A two-year mandate is short,” admitted Gabriel, adding that prioritising was important.

But although Gabriel said her priority would be “full implementation” of legislative proposals that the commission has already tabled in the past 2.5 years, she said she would also propose some new plans.

Left-wing MEP Julia Reda, who in the past had been very critical of Gabriel's predecessor, Guenther Oettinger, was also mild.

“I understand you are careful,” she said, adding that no one is expecting Gabriel to present any U-turns on commission policies that have been put in place by predecessors.

Reda, the only member of the Pirate Party, a pan-European group focussed on digital rights, tweeted afterwards that Gabriel “has learned quickly about digital topics, but is giving little indication of what she thinks”.

Focus

MEPs to grill youngest ever EU commissioner

Mariya Gabriel, a Bulgarian MEP, is designated to take up the EU commission's digital affairs portfolio, although she has little experience with that file.

Supercomputing lag could prompt EU brain drain

“We are not in the top-10 or the top-five in the world when it comes to high-performance computing but we have the potential to do it," says EU digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans

EU capitals voice support for more summits, tackling divisive issues and sometimes deciding by majority - not consensus - as outlined in the European Council president's plan.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  2. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict
  3. Dutch PM: Brexit is 'still a bad idea'
  4. Commission to issue proposal on civil protection
  5. Tusk: 'No space' for EU intervention in Catalonia
  6. Austrian PM calls Brexit talks speed 'big disappointment'
  7. PM Muscat: journalist murder 'left a mark' on Malta
  8. Belgian PM: No crisis with Spain over Catalan remarks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  3. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  7. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  8. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  9. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  10. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  11. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness

Latest News

  1. May on mission impossible in Brussels
  2. EU seeks to shut down sea route from Libya
  3. Digital debate will be first test of Tusk's new policy crowbar
  4. EU Parliament: EU migrant quotas do have a future
  5. EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans
  6. Commission employs double standards in Spain
  7. Legal study sounds alarm on 'Baysanto' merger
  8. Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020