Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bulgarian European commission candidate blunders at hearing

Bulgaria is lately often in the news regarding their EU membership. But the following story makes really headlines!

By Jeroen van der Kris in Brussels


The Bulgarian candidate for the new European commission allegedly hid her ownership of a company, getting herself and chairman Barroso in trouble.“Disastrous,” was an oft-heard comment in Brussels about Rumania Jeleva’s performance Tuesday at a hearing by members of the European parliament. The Bulgarian, Rumania Jeleva (40), prospective commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, could have done little worse than she did.

Her name had been circulating for weeks. Rumour had it her husband worked for a company involved with Russian organised crime. Nobody knew if these rumours had any merit. Then, on Tuesday, only hours before the hearing, an article appeared on the Financial Times Deutschland’s website containing a verifiable claim: Jeleva was said not to have reported the fact that she owned a consultancy firm. A direct violation of EU rules.

Jeleva responded clumsily to the accusation. At the start of her hearing, Thijs Berman, spokesperson for the Party of European Socialists, asked the obvious question about her alleged business interests. Others followed his lead, but Jeleva ignored the question entirely and set off on a ten minute monologue about anything but her consulting business. When the parliamentarians finally got her to answer the question she switched from English to Bulgarian, apparently afraid to make mistakes.
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Day Opening - January 14