“EP applauds Mariya Gabriel – she is perfectly fit”, “Mariya Gabriel’s performance was comprehensive and thorough”, “Maria Gabriel performed perfectly well at her hearing” – these are some of the titles of the Bulgarian press following her grilling by MEPs on Monday (30 October).
Most of the media draw attention on the quote, in her final remarks, from the Anthem of the Bulgarian Education Върви, народе възродени by Stoyan Mihaylovski, which is interpreted as a signal that she will put science on a pedestal. “Science is a sun”, the lyrics say.
Gabriel, who is married to a French national, spoke French almost at all times, even when she was answering to Bulgarian MEPs. Not a single question from Bulgarian MEPs was a personal attack.
Her compatriot from the S&D group Ivo Hristov asked questions regarding what are her plans to stop the brain drain inside the EU, which is a consequence of disparity in revenue. He said there were more Bulgarian students abroad than at home. Also, he focused on the need to simplify the access to the Horizon 2020 program, which alienates candidates with less experience.
The Commissioner-nominate assured that these issues were on her radar, and also spoke of the need to limit the brain drain in a global framework.
Gabriel spoke Bulgarian in her introductory remarks, when she thanked the government and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov for being nominated again.
Gabriel said she would work on “Talent Europe but also Europe of Hearts”. “Europe must retain its leading role in science, with a greater contribution than the US and China”, she said.
The French magazine and website Le Point called Gabriel “bûcheuse” (student who learns by heart), and also described her as “Romanian”. The mistake was later corrected.