Mariya Gabriel was confirmed Tuesday (4 July) asÂ the next EU digital Commissioner and will become the youngest person ever to take on a top Commission post.
Gabriel, a 38-year-old centre-right Bulgarian MEP, was approved during a European Parliament plenary session with 517 votes in favour, 77 against and 89 abstentions.
She will take on the role of EU Commissioner for digital society and economy, putting her in charge of DG Connect, the Commission’s technology policy arm.
German Commissioner GÃ¼nther Oettinger left the post in January when he was put in charge of the EU budget.
Gabriel will start the job next week, a Commission official said. The official said her choices for cabinet members are âin fluxâ.
An aide to Gabriel declined to give any information about her cabinet choices. Gabriel had not yet responded to an emailed request for comment by the time this article was published.
During a Parliament hearing two weeks ago, Gabriel said she would follow Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s priorities to set up an EU digital single market through technology policies that apply across the bloc.
Gabriel spoke almost entirely in French during the two-and-a-half-hour-long hearing, making only brief comments in Bulgarian and English.
Gabriel has been an MEP since 2009 and has worked mostly on security and foreign policy but not on technology. Other MEPs who were at Gabriel’s hearing said she was well-briefed on the Commission’s digital policies, ranging from online platform regulation to encryption.
MEPs did not ask Gabriel about reports in Bulgarian media that she paid discounted rent for her apartment in Sofia.
The Commission is in the middle of negotiating a number of its most controversial new technology proposals, including copyright and telecoms law.
Some MEPs said they were disappointed that Gabriel did not voice her own opinions on those files during her hearing last month. Estonian Liberal MEP Kaja Kallas told EURACTIV she was worried about who Gabriel’s advisers will be.
âWho are you listening to? It could go very wrong,â Kallas said in an interview.
Andrus Ansip, the EU vice-president who oversees digital single market policies, told EURACTIV last week that Gabriel’s âhelp is definitely neededâ because the Commission is negotiating too many pieces of technology legislation with the Parliament and national governments.
He also said that Gabriel will make it easier for Bulgaria to negotiate technology bills when it takes over the rotating EU Council presidency in January 2018.
Bulgaria has had no EU Commissioner since last December, when former Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva left her post for a job at the World Bank.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov congratulated Gabriel on Twitter after she was confirmed inÂ the job. Ansip and Juncker also congratulated her.