Iliana Ivanova could be the next Eu Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. Let’s talk about her profile and the steps towards this new european role

Politics - June 4, 2024

Iliana Ivanova could be the next European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, replacing Mariya Gabriel, who left her European position in May 2023 to take up a new role within the government in Bulgaria. Today Mariya Gabriel is therefore the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. 

Let us talk a little about Iliana Ivanova and the path she will have to follow to officially and formally obtain the role she is running for.

The Bulgarian Iliana Ivanova was born on 14 September 1975 in Stara Zagora, the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province and municipality, 200 km from the country’s capital, Sofia.  

Reading her CV, published on the official website of the European Parliament, we can see that her career is studded with numerous experiences, making her a very suitable profile and a worthy successor to Mariya Gabriele for the role of Eu commissioner.

Ivanova attended the French Language School ‘Romain Rolland’. She then obtained a degree in international economic relations from the Varna University of Economics in 1998. She also obtained a Master’s degree in international economic relations in 1999. 

After that, in 2004 she went to the USA for attending an MBA in Global Management at the Arizona State University. 

From 1999 to 2002 she was in charge to be the coordinator for International financial institutions for the Bulgarian Ministry of agriculture and food. After that period, she also implemented her work as an economist, being an investment and business analyst in various financial and banking institutions in the USA.

Her language skills, acquired over time, enable her to speak fluently in English, German, French and Russian. 

In politically terms, belongs to Boyko Borissov’s political force, GERB, affiliated to the EPP. She became a member of European parliament in 2009, and until 2012 she was, for example, Vice-chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control (the so-known CONT), Vice-chair of the Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis, Vice-Chair of the EU-China Delegation and a Member of the Committee of Internal Market and consumer protection. 

From 2013 until now, she has been in charge of being a member of the ECA, which stands for European Court of Auditors. The ECA is one of the most relevant European bodies. In fact, it supervises the legality and regularity of the revenue and expenditure of the EU budget and ensures its sound financial management by assessing the economy, effectiveness, efficiency, legitimacy and regularity of EU interventions. 

From now on, Ivanova will have to continue on a long and detailed path to become the next European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. 

In fact, it will be two parliamentary committees, the Industry and the Culture one, that will have to hold a hearing with Iliana Ivanova, asking her a series of questions from which the fundamental characters on which Ivanova, should her nomination be formally accepted, will base her strategy as commissioner will emerge. 

A whole series of detailed steps are envisaged in order to arrive at the replacement of a member of the Commission. The steps to be followed are fundamental and are part of the long and complex procedure established by Europe to replace a member within the Commission.  

Let’s look in detail at how the whole procedure will unfold from now on and which Iliana Ivanova will be the protagonist.

First of all, it should be noted that if the situation arises where a replacement of a member within the European Commission is needed, or even in the case of a reallocation of portfolios, the European Parliament is obliged to invite all candidates for the new functions to a hearing. In this way, the MEPs have the opportunity to examine the candidates on the table. 

The substitution process is similar to the process that is followed to elect the European Commission at the beginning of each term.

The first step comes from the Committee on Legal Affairs (also known as JURI). This committee examines the declaration of financial interests of each candidate, and after careful analysis, if everything is in order, confirms that no conflict of interest exists. This is the crucial first step, the prerequisite for the subsequent hearing with the candidate.

The hearing is organised by the committees responsible for the same subject as the candidate’s portfolio. Before that, the candidate is expected to answer a series of questions. The manner in which the candidate must respond is in writing.

After that, the hearing, which lasts three hours and is broadcast live, begins. 

At the end of the audition, the committees involved discuss and proceed to draft an evaluation letter.

The other actor involved in this process is the so-known Conference of Committee Chairs (CCC). In particular, we must highlight that the Conference is the political body that coordinates the work of the committees and ensures the smooth cooperation between them. It consists of the Chairs of all standing and special committees and usually meets on Tuesdays of the Strasbourg part-sessions. It therefore has an important role within the Eu.
In the process we’re talking about, this Committee has the task of assessing the outcome of the hearing and then forwarding its conclusions to the leaders of the political groups and the President of Parliament in the Conference of Presidents, who are responsible for the final assessment and the decision on whether to close the hearings or request new elements. 

Once all the steps described so far have been completed, the Parliament plays its role, as it then proceeds and vote in plenary.

From a procedural point of view, Parliament has an advisory role on individual candidates for Commissioner, while it can approve or dismiss the European Commission as a whole. An agreement between Parliament and the Commission stipulates that the Commission Presidency considers Parliament’s opinion on the individual candidates and makes the required changes to the composition of the European Commission. As usual, in the case of votes on the individual candidates, Parliament votes by secret ballot, requiring a simple majority to approve the decision.

Parliament’s hearing with Iliana Ivanova will take place on 5th  September 2023, and will be organised by two committees, namely the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT).

As far as the voting process is concerned, the vote will take place during the next plenary session of the EU Parliament on 11-14 September 2023.

The candidature of Iliana Ivanova was brought forward by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. On this issue, the President declared as follows: “Ms Ivanova has significant experience on EU matters, having been a member of the European Court of Auditors since 2013. Prior to that, she was a member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2012 and a vice chair of the Committee on budgetary control”. The President also added that “Ivanova’s experience is crucial in 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”. 

It was precisely Ursula von der Leyen who chose the name Iliana Ivanova as next Commissioner, after the evaluation conducted by analysing various professional profiles for the role.
We will now have to wait for the conclusion of the whole process which, excepting any surprises, will lead to Ivanova taking on the role of the new Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, giving her well-deserved recognition for her professionalism and skills demonstrated also and above all within the walls of the European Union.