22nd Mar 2018

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”.


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.

News in Brief

  1. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU
  2. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  3. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  4. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  5. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  6. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  7. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  8. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  2. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  3. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  4. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  5. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  6. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  7. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  8. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections