Monday

22nd Jan 2018

Slovenia nominates unconventional candidate for EU commission post

  • Violeta Bulc is an unconventional business person, who trained as a shaman and fire-walker (Photo: TEDx Ljubljana)

Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar on Friday (10 October) nominated political novice Violeta Bulc as EU commissioner, despite warnings from the European Parliament to send someone experienced in order to avoid a second rejection.

Bulc, an unconventional businesswoman who also trained as a shaman and fire-walker, switched to politics less than a month ago, when she was appointed minister without portfolio responsible for development, strategic projects, and cohesion.

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Bulc's nomination comes after the two largest groups in the European Parliament asked for an "experienced candidate" in order to avoid a second rejection after the weak performance of the initial Slovenian candidate, Alenka Bratusek.

They tried to push for Socialist MEP Tanja Fajon to be appointed, but this irritated Ljubljana which considered the deputies to be interfering in a domestic decision.

"The prime minister expects that the political groups in the European Parliament will respect the EU legal order and the basic principles of democracy in the selection of commissioner candidates," his office said in a written statement.

Cerar is himself a new face on the Slovenian political scene, having formed his own party just this summer.

It is not yet affiliated with any EU political family, but is likely to join the EU Liberals.

Cerar had never endorsed Bratusek, also a Liberal but from a different party, who appointed herself as commission nominee while she was still in office.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Socialist group in the European Parliament told this website that Bulc will fail her hearing "only if her performance is worse than Bratusek’s”.

"We only expressed our suggestion for Fajon, because she was on the initial shortlist sent to Juncker and because she is a talented and experienced MEP," Socialist spokesman Jan Bernas said.

He said the hearing - likely to be organised next week - will be "tough and fair, as it was for all candidates. We don't prejudge and there is no need to escalate this diplomatic crisis between Ljubljana and the EP."

Bulc is set to meet EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday.

Bratusek was meant to be vice-president of the commission in charge of energy union. But it is not clear whether the portfolio will remain the same for Bulc.

"Mr Juncker does not know her yet. He will decide on her portfolio after they meet," Juncker's spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Friday in a press conference.

Schinas said the "risk still exists" that the Juncker commission is delayed, as there will be only one week left to hold hearings on possible portfolio swaps if Bulc does not get energy union.

The European Parliament was supposed to vote on the entire Juncker team on 22 October in order for the new commission to take office on 1 November.

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