The European Union’s Commissioner for Research and Innovation Mariya Gabriel has resigned from her EU post as she takes on the challenge of forming a new Bulgarian coalition government.
Gabriel was picked last week by the leader of her party Boyko Borissov to become Bulgaria’s next prime minister. Bulgarian President Rumen Radev gave her the institutional mandate on Monday to form a government.
The Bulgarian center-right politician joined the EU executive as commissioner for digital affairs in 2017 and took on the portfolio of research, innovation, education and culture at the start of the current mandate, in 2019.
Her track record in Brussels was mixed — she enjoyed a reputation as a young, dynamic commissioner with a genuine passion for technological progress, but one who lacked the gravitas to advance her agenda and who would push her staff to the breaking point, POLITICO reported Monday.
In a statement, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that she’d accepted the resignation and thanked Gabriel for her “constructive and friendly contribution” to the college.
“I wish Mariya Gabriel all the best and I am confident that her European experience, in this and the previous College of Commissioners, will be put to good use for the country,” she said.
Gabriel’s portfolio will be handled by Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager and Vice President Margaritis Schinas, with Vestager overseeing innovation and research issues and Schinas taking care of education and cultural issues.
The Bulgarian politician has seven days, until May 22, to form a government to be led by her center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, part of the EU-wide European People’s Party (EPP), hoping to break a political deadlock after five consecutive elections in two years failed to produce a stable coalition.
Failing that, the second-largest parliamentary group — an alliance of the two anti-corruption parties, Continuing the Change (PP) and Democratic Bulgaria (DB) — will have the initiative to form a coalition.