Friday

20th Apr 2018

Opinion

Digital portfolio will suit the new Bulgarian commissioner

  • Gabriel has been nominated to replace former Bulgarian commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva. (Photo: EPP Group)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s decision on Tuesday (16 May) to allocate the digital economy and society portfolio to possible future EU commissioner and current MEP, Mariya Gabriel is both positive and long-awaited.

From the digital sector, to gender equality, to Bulgaria’s role in Europe – the nomination and portfolio allocation is apt and worthy of support.

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.

First of all, the decision is good news for industry.

Much of the digital sector has been searching for a serious and reassuring interlocutor since the resignation of the former Bulgarian commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, some 7 months ago. This led to her budget portfolio being given to Guenther Oettinger – which left the digital portfolio largely vacant.

For months now, the unoccupied position has led to criticism and caused some embarrassment for Juncker, who has to deal with the tragedy of Brexit and the EU's weak economic growth.

Bulgaria has finally moved towards the right pick for the job. Gabriel will have to work on the legislative proposals presented over the past two years, while preparing ambitious new proposals to complete the digital single market.

She will have to master legislative files and digital initiatives, such as the e-commerce package – which also deals with geo-blocking, the e-privacy regulation, the general data protection regulation, the European cloud initiative and Wifi4EU – in order to successfully navigate her upcoming European Parliament hearing.

Gabriel will be expected to develop and implement measures to make Europe more trusted and secure online, boost public and private investment, and develop creative industries.

Her task will also include continuing to promote a sustainable business model for Euronews, contributing to successful European innovation stories, and rendering the EU administration more open and effective by use of digital technologies.

She will have to empower European workforce and consumers for the digital era and embark on legislative and non-legislative initiatives to allow the non-personal data economy to thrive.

Gabriel is well-connected and well-placed to tackle borders within the digital single market, as she has done for the Schengen area as an MEP.

Furthermore, the digital dossier is likely be given high priority during the upcoming Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU (January until June 2018), with Gabriel in place to lead the digital sector at EU level.

Lacking experience?

The portfolio is a tough one and Gabriel has already been criticised for her lack of experience in the area.

Oettinger was also given a hard time whilst trying to convince the European Parliament and the Brussels bubble of his skills in digital affairs. However, based on the outcomes, no one would seriously doubt his diligence in negotiating a proper regulatory framework for the digital future of the EU.

Similarly, Gabriel is known for her hard work in the parliamentary committees on civil liberties, justice and home affairs (Libe), foreign affairs (Afet), women’s rights and gender equality (Femm), and human rights (Droi). The two-term MEP was the centre-right EPP group's coordinator and rapporteur on 22 important dossiers.

For this reason, the 37-year old was nominated as one of the top 25 most influential MEPs, ranking 15th in the VoteWatch list of all 751 MEPs last year. She also won the Parliament Magazine’s MEP award for her work in gender equality and development.

Therefore, her nomination seems to be good news for the European Commission.

Commission vice-president Andrus Ansip will probably be relieved to have someone in place to relieve the burden.

Ansip had been obliged to temporarily cover the vacant post, in addition to his responsibility to coordinate key files, work with commissioners, the EU parliament and the Council on several important proposals in the digital area.

It is also good news for the European Parliament.

Gabriel will be able to bring some dynamism to relations between the EU institutions, as she did when she was rapporteur for the recent Georgia and Ukraine visa waiver legislation.

Professional qualities

Her nomination is good news for Europeans, too.

Gabriel is part of the future of Europe, with her multicultural and open-minded traits. In times of rising populism and euroscepticism, a strongly committed European is a boost against this wave.

In 2012, she was elected vice-president of EPP women, which is an association dedicated to the advancement of women in the EU. Her struggle for women’s rights sends a strong message on gender balance from Bulgaria – the only EU country that has never had a male commissioner.

If her candidacy is approved during the hearings in the various committees of the EU parliament, and by the Council, Gabriel could greatly contribute to refreshing the EU project in the digital sector and beyond.

Eli Hadzhieva is a Bulgarian independent blogger and a former parliamentary attaché at the European Parliament. She is now heading the EU Affairs of a German consultancy specialised in the digital sector.

Bulgaria's election test

Sunday's general elections will be a test for the country's relations with the EU, Russia, and Turkey, as well as for the political future of former leader Borisov.

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.

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  2. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  3. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  4. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  5. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  6. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  7. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  8. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeParabéNs! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  2. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  3. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  4. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  5. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  6. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  10. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector

Latest News

  1. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  2. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  3. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  4. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  5. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  6. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  7. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  8. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  2. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  3. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  4. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  5. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  6. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  9. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  11. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  12. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership