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Bulgaria's candidate for EU Commission post quits

BULGARIA's Foreign Minister Rumiana Jeleva offered to resign last night and withdrew her candidacy for the European Commission.

The decision to go has removed a significant obstacle that had threatened to derail the incoming EU executive.

Ms Jeleva (40) tendered her resignation in a letter to Bulgaria's prime minister Boiko Borisov after some members of the European Parliament made clear they would not support her appointment because of concerns over her competence and links to business interests.

The EU legislature cannot block single candidates, but it can reject the entire 27-member Commission, the body responsible for enforcing EU rules. This would have been a big blow to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Ms Jeleva's withdrawal will delay the formation of the next Commission since parliament will now need time to organise hearings for her replacement. But it increases the likelihood that the Commission line-up will ultimately win approval.

The vote to approve the Commission, originally scheduled for January 26, is due to be held on February 9.

"I ask you to accept my resignation from all positions I hold so that you can do the necessary to withdraw my nomination as Bulgaria's European commissioner," Jeleva wrote in her letter to Mr Borisov, published by Bulgaria's foreign ministry.

Mr Borisov confirmed that he had withdrawn her nomination for the Brussels post but said he had rejected her resignation as foreign minister.

To replace Ms Jeleva, Mr Borisov has proposed Kristalina Georgieva, a senior World Bank official with a long track record in aid to the developing world who is a strong candidate.

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