Photo by Georgi Kyurpanov on Unsplash
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has praised outgoing EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel following her shock resignation.
Gabriel, the European Commissioner for innovation and research, quit on Monday to focus on helping to form Bulgaria’s next coalition government.
She had served as European Commissioner since 2017, when she replaced Kristalina Georgieva, now the head of the International Monetary Fund, as commissioner in charge of the digital economy and society.
Gabriel has been nominated by the centre-right GERB party to lead the upcoming negotiations.
No direct replacement for Gabriel has so far been named, so Vice President Margrethe Vestager will cover her duties for the time being along with fellow commissioner Margaritis Schinas.
In a statement, von der Leyen said, “Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has informed me that today she will be presented to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to receive the institutional mandate to form a government.
“She has therefore submitted her resignation as a member of the College of Commissioners.
“I have accepted her resignation.”
She added, “I would like to thank Mariya Gabriel for her service as Commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth. In her three and a half years in this role, she has made a great contribution to advancing the Commission priorities in this area.
“I am grateful in particular to Commissioner Gabriel for the excellent implementation of our flagship innovation programme Horizon Europe, for the strong push for innovation and start-ups through the European Innovation Council and for her personal engagement in making the European year of youth a success.
“And I would also like to thank Commissioner Gabriel for her constructive and friendly contribution to the work of the College of commissioners, in general.
“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.”
von der Leyen added, “In the meantime, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Vice-President Margaritis Schinas will be in charge of overseeing Commissioner Gabriel’s portfolio, with immediate effect. Executive Vice-President Vestager will be responsible for innovation and research, while Vice-President Schinas will be in charge of education, culture and youth.