The European Commission is on course to win a vote of approval in the European Parliament after Bulgaria's nominee for the EU executive performed well in a hearing in the assembly on Wednesday.
The Commission, a policy-making body which enforces the European Union's rules, is now expected to win the parliament's backing on Feb. 9, ending months of uncertainty that have hurt the bloc's efforts to improve its standing on the world stage.
Kristalina Georgieva answered questions much more confidently than Bulgaria's original candidate for humanitarian aid chief, Rumiana Jeleva, who withdrew after Socialist and Green deputies made clear they would not back her appointment.
"Kristalina Georgieva left no doubt that she is the right woman for the job. In her hearing she demonstrated that she has the human and professional qualities to be an excellent humanitarian aid commissioner," said Judith Sargentini, a Green member of the development committee that grilled the Bulgarian.
The Socialists also backed her, saying in a statement that she had the qualifications, competence, experience and probity to be a very good commissioner.
The 56-year-old World Bank official, who has a long track record in aid to the developing world, was the last of the nominees to the 27-person Commission to be vetted by parliament and she won applause at the end of her three-hour hearing.
This was in sharp contrast to the doubts deputies voiced about Jeleva's competence and business ties when she was questioned last month. The criticism prompted her to withdraw her candidacy and quit as Bulgaria's foreign minister.
Long delays in commission's appointment
Opposition to Jeleva had threatened to block the appointment of the Commission, which has important regulatory, legislative and policy-shaping powers in the bloc, a trading power with more than 500 million citizens.
Although the EU legislature cannot block single candidates, it can reject the entire team, which includes one representative from each of the 27 member states.
Rejection would be a big blow to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who was backed for a second five-year term by EU leaders last June and by parliament on Sept. 16.
His new Commission should have begun work in November but its appointment was held up by disagreements over the nomination of a long-term EU president and a new foreign policy chief, by delays in securing member states' approval for the EU's Lisbon reform treaty and then by Jeleva's withdrawal on Jan. 19.
"More than seven months after the appointment of Mr Barroso we still don't have a Commission. It's a worrying phenomenon," said Antonio Missiroli of the European Policy Centre think tank.
Some of the Commission's powers have been frozen because of the delay in its appointment, preventing it proposing any major new legislation since November.
"The long delay in having people in place has become a problem when it comes to reacting quickly to challenges on the international level," Missiroli said. "And we'll still have to wait a few weeks for the Commission to be fully operational on the international scene."
ReutersLast Mod: 04 Şubat 2010, 08:36