Despite the assumptions that Bulgaria will not nominate a replacement after the departure of Mariya Gabriel, as the 2024 elections are closing by, the newfound Bulgarian government coalition – of which Gabriel is the deputy Prime Minister of – rapidly announced two candidates. The candidates were Iliana Ivanova – a member of the European Court of Auditors – and Daniel Lorer, investor and former Bulgarian Minister for Innovation.
In her official statement, Ursula von der Leyen applauded the commitment shown towards the EU by both candidates, but cited Ivanova’s experiences being relevant to “carrying forward the implementation of the EU’s flagship research programme, Horizon Europe, to enhance the performance of EU’s research spending and achieve a better impact on the ground”. In addition, with her appointment, the gender balance remains in place in the college of commissioners.
Iliana Ivanova served as a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2012. During this time, she acted as the Vice-Chair of the Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control. Following her years as MEP, she joined the European Court of Auditors, where she was rapporteur for more than 25 reports on a wide variety of topics. According to Science/Business, this experience is welcomed by the scientific community, and higher education institutions also express relief having a single person rather than the previous, temporary agreement, where the position was split between Margrethe Vestager and Margaritis Schinas. Nevertheless, Ivanova’s current mandate wont be lenghty, as it will end after the European Elections, scheduled to be held between 6 and 9 June.