Meglena Kouneva joins office of EC Transport Commissioner

Meglena Kouneva joins office of EC Transport Commissioner

Meglena Kouneva, Bulgaria's former European Commissioner has been appointed political adviser to the office of Siim Kallas, European Commission's vice-president and commissioner for transport, Bulgarian news agency Focus said on April 19 2010.The news was confirmed by Kouneva, who told Focus that she was scheduled to take part in a discussion on transport issues with a focus on European air traffic problems caused by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland.EU transport ministers will hold emergency talks by video conference to discuss possibly easing air travel restrictions and ending the air traffic crisis."For me personally it is very important to have a meaningful and substantial relation in my work with the EC. This would give the chance to grasp the problems on a different level, which is very useful for Bulgaria. That's one of the reasons why I accepted this position with great joy," Kouneva told Focus.Ever since she stepped down as EC commissioner in January 2010, Kouneva's professional future was subject to a lot of media speculation.She is a member of Bulgaria's National Movement for Stability and Progress (NMSP) party and some speculation had it that she would come back to Bulgaria and dive into domestic politics ahead of the upcoming elections for President in 2011. She was top of NMSP's ticket for the 2009 elections for European Parliament and as such helped the party win two seats. However, she decided not to give up her seat, but still finished her term as European Commissioner.In February 2010, Kouneva said that she had rejected EC Commission President José Manuel Barroso's offer to appoint her as head of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA), the in-house Commission think-tank.In April, a report in Bulgarian-language Dnevnik daily said that French bank BNP Paribas would expand its board of directors with four new members, among them Kouneva. The nominations would be made on May 12 during a meeting of the bank's shareholders, Dnevnik said, quoting French financial daily Les Echos."I have received several offers, including by the European Commission for important policy making, but for the moment I have not replied to any of them," Kouneva told Dnevnik at the time. She also said that as a former European Commissioner, such decisions had to be co-ordinated with the Commission's ethics board."I am happy that in my capacity as a commissioner, my efforts have not gone unnoticed," she was quoted by Dnevnik as saying.In May 2002 Kouneva, now 52, was appointed Bulgaria's first Minister of European Affairs in the NMSP government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg. She continued to hold the post even after after the 2005 parliamentary elections, when her party became a junior partner in the coalition government headed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party's Sergey Stanishev - the only minister of the former cabinet to retain her post.On 26 October 2006, Kouneva was nominated to be Bulgaria's first member of the European Commission. Barosso assigned her the portfolio of consumer protection.

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