Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Disputes in Eastern Europe because of their commissioners

Adelina Marini, December 6, 2009

If you think that only Bulgaria is not satisfied with the field of competence given it its European Commissioners, a research by the online media EurActiv shows that all over Eastern Europe national opposition parties are not satisfied with the fields given to their commissioners designates. In Hungary, the opposition centre-right party Fidesz stated that the country's commissioner, László Andor - who obtained the employment, social affairs and inclusion portfolio - had received a "weightless" role. The party hoped the Hungarian commissioner to receive a field with much more weight. Andor himself said he was happy with the portfolio and the ruling socialists also expressed satisfaction by saying the Hungarian portfolio is of "primary importance".

There were similar reactions in Slovakia where Marosh Shevchovich got the interinstitutional portfolio. Critics of Prime Minister Robert Fico observed that he had proven unable to secure the energy or transport portfolio for the country's commissioner. They also said the job of Shevchovich was "only an administrative" job. But for the governing parties, the field was important because Shevchovich had managed to get into the "kitchen of the European Commission, apparently considering this room to be the most important in the house".

"Chief of accountants" has become the Polish commissioner designate Janusz Lewandowski, according to the reactions in Poland. "Janusz will be not an European accountant, but the chief of all accountants in the Commission. Every change in the budget will require his improvement", the Polish MEPs said. The largest opposition party "Law and Justice" said though that the portfolio of Lewandowski was not the best decision for Poland.

In Romania most reactions were defined into the question whether their commissioner was not actually French. Dacian Ciolos got the agriculture and rural development in a moment of severe political turmoil in Bucharest because of the presidential elections in the country. Romanian media quote Western articles, saying that Ciolos was in fact "the second French commissioner" because he studied and lived in France for a long time and was supported by Paris for the post.

Only in the Czech Republic it seems there is satisfaction with the portfolio of the Czech designate for the European Commission - enlargement. Prague is even happier with the new field, saying that it was better than the first Czech portfolio of commissioner Vladimir Spidla who is responsible for the social affairs. However critics say that Stefan Fuele got the portfolio in a moment when the EU would hardly continue to enlarge.

For Bulgaria EurActiv quotes Bulgarian media as saying that the country received a "slap in the face". "The country where the national commissioner portfolio attribution caused the biggest storm is undoubtedly Bulgaria", EurActiv writes and continues that the reason was that Rumyana Zheleva was made responsible for humanitarian aid and crisis response, a field described by the centre-left opposition leader Sergei Stanishev as "a slap in the face" and the first defeat for the new centre-right government in its dealings with Brussels.

Disappointment comes against the background of the previous portfolio of the first Bulgarian commissioner which was widely respected in Brussels. Some media even jeered at Borisov, a fireman by training, saying that it was only fair that the commissioner he had designated would be responsible for handling disasters and forest fires.