By Brian Johnson - 19th January 2010
Her decision to go is the best outcome for everyone, including herself. After such a poor performance in the parliamentary hearing, which highlighted her incompetence, this outcome was both inevitable and predictable
Rumiana Jeleva's decision to step down as Bulgaria's commissioner-designate candidate has been described as the "best outcome for everyone, including herself" by Socialist group leader Martin Schulz.
Schulz, the S&D leader in the European parliament was swift to respond to Jeleva's dramatic resignation, which was delivered to Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov, on Tuesday.
"The resignation of Bulgarian candidate for the European commission Rumiana Jeleva was inevitable and predictable", said Schulz.
"Her decision to go is the best outcome for everyone, including herself.
"After such a poor performance in the parliamentary hearing, which highlighted her incompetence, this outcome was both inevitable and predictable."
Schulz also attacked the parliament's EPP group for what he called their desperation to save Jeleva despite her performance.
"It was a serious mistake to put political allegiance before basic competence to do the job", he said.
However EPP chairman Joseph Daul said Jeleva had been attacked by political opponents "without scruple".
"Our political adversaries fired at Mrs Jeleva without scruple, they accused her without any proof and, on realising that their personal attacks were without foundation, questioned her competence," he said.
"This is not the EPP's way of doing politics, and it is not the way the European parliament should hold political hearings."
Despite a ruling by the European parliament's legal service on Monday clearing Jeleva of any financial misconduct, she asked Borisov to accept her resignation from all her political appointments, and to "take the necessary steps for the withdrawal of my candidacy for the Bulgarian commissioner".
MEPs highlighted their doubts about Jeleva's suitability for the position of humanitarian aid commissioner during last week's nomination hearing in parliament, where she failed to impress EU deputies.
MEPs also raised concerns over her past business dealings, prompting the investigation by the assembly's legal authorities, which according to the parliament's EPP group declared on Monday afternoon that Jeleva, "meets the commissioner's code of conduct".
However her weak performance during her confirmation hearing and a background campaign involving parliament's Socialists, Liberal and Green groups ensured that her candidacy was brought under intense media scrutiny.
Despite the public backing of commission president José Manuel Barroso and support from parliament's centre-right EPP group, Jeleva accused her detractors of instigating a whispering campaign against her.
"My alleged incompetence was distributed months before my hearing on 12 January," she said in her resignation letter, adding that she believed she had "no hope of receiving fair treatment or an objective evaluation", during the hearing process.
Jeleva also said she was bitter that the accusations regarding alleged conflicts of interest had dominated her public hearing.
Commenting on her resignation, commission president José Manuel Barroso said he fully respected Jeleva's "personal decision" to step down.
He also moved swiftly to counter any suggestion that her resignation would delay confirmation of his new team, following the announcement that World Bank vice-president Kristalina Georgieva had been put forward as Bulgaria's new candidate.
"The process of the investiture of the new commission should now continue and be concluded at the earliest opportunity," said Barroso.
ALDE MEPs Alexander Graf Lambsdorff and Silvana Koch-Mehrin echoed Schulz's opinion that Jeleva's resignation was inevitable, arguing that her candidacy had been "damaged by the allegations" and that "the performance of her duties would have been difficult".
"Her resignation clears the way for the appointment of a new candidate from Bulgaria," said the pair in a statement.