Tuesday 22 July 2008

Powerful Women (I): Meglena Plugchieva

The category "Powerful Women", which I will continue in the future, will be dedicated to European women with influence on the national or supranational level but with relevance for both.

As seen in the "Females in Front" petition, looking for qualified women for top European jobs is a permanent task and my "Powerful Women" series will be part of this work.

The first woman to be mentioned is Meglena Plugchieva (photo). Mrs. Plugchieva is Deputy Prime minister of Bulgaria and in this function responsible of monitoring and coordinating the EU funding.

Those of you following the news will have read that the preliminary publication of an EU Commission report on the state of affairs in Romania and Bulgaria has provoked intense discussions in Bulgaria and in the European Union - not least because huge amounts of EU funds will have to be repaid due to corruptive practices and misappropriation.

These bad news show that Mrs. Plugchieva, in office since April/May (before she was the Bulgarian ambassador to Germany), has quite a tough way to go. Yet, she has shown in her statements that she is ready to be as tough on this subject as it is necessary:
"I will not be Brussels' carrier pigeon. I will coordinate the work of each group of experts responsible for the EU funds absorption. However, this does not mean that the ministers, who have taken commitments to absorb funds under operative programs of the EU are exempt from their responsibilities and duties."
Today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the leading national newspapers in Germany, calls her the "Guardian of [public] virtue" and remarks that she does not appear like a "woman with the back to the wall" but like a hard working and assertive politician willing to eliminate all corruptive practices in her country.

And in June, a high official of the Bavarian government (the most important German federal sub-unit) said about her:
"The nomination of Mrs. Plugchieva is an important signal for the earnest effort of the Bulgarian government to fight the misappropriate use of European funds. With Meglena Plugchieva, this task is in good hands."
We will see whether the pressure from Brussles will be helpful for Mrs. Plugchieva. From my side, I can only hope that she is successful in bringing corruption and criminal practices down. This is as important for her country and the European Union as it is - supposedly - for herself!

Good luck, Mrs. Plugchieva!


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for Meglena Plugchieva, she has just as much power as the politicians in the background let her. It's exactly the same with Sergei Stanishev. Politics (the actual act of statebuilding and consensus reaching) in Bulgaria is being stifled by those with deals to keep with shady members of society and business.

The hope is that with enough elections, the people will (eventually) be able to ween these unwanted from the political parties.