MEPs give New Transport Commissioner nominee Violeta Bulc the green light after promising hearing despite short time for preparation

Following the rejection of first Solevian candidate, Alenka Bratušek, by the European Parliament two weeks ago, the European Commission President proceeded to hand Bulc the portfolio for Transport, promoting Maroš Šefčovič to the Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union (more information).

Bulc had less than one week to prepare for her hearing. With no experience of politics and policy at European level, her audition can be considered promising. MEPs from the Transport Committee were particularly unhappy at losing the original nominee Šefčovič and, though acknowledging the fact that it wasn’t Bulc’s fault, tested the new candidate’s competence for the position.

Bulc’s opening speech showed determination and highlighted her extensive experience in innovation and ICT. An engineer by trade, she set up her own company in telecoms and emphasized the role ICT and ITS can bring to the transport sector. She underlined that transport is first and foremost about people. Transport is taken for granted or perceived as a problem more often than for what it can offer: growth, jobs and innovation.

With regards urban mobility, early in her opening remarks Bulc spoke about how Cities and urban areas are testing beds for innovation in the transport sector. She emphasized that she would keep an open dialogue with all relevant actors in the transport sector including cities. She also underlined the principle of subsidiary and that it is for Member States to implement action in this area. The European Union can coordinate and encourage action through funding and benchmarking and tools to compare relative success of different Member States in implement good practices in the area of urban mobility.

Finally, many questions focused on the environmental dimension of transport. Bulc reiterated her commitment to making the transport sector environmentally friendly but didn’t put any concrete actions forward. MEP’s will keep a close watch on the new Transport Commissioner’s proposals in this area.

Violeta Bulc was considered too junior to get the position of Vice President of the European Commission, originally for Alenka Bratušek. Furthermore, her portfolio as Commissioner has been limited to transport only ,whereas the previous candidate, the Slovak Maroš Šefčovič, had been given Transport and space. Jean Claude Junker will announce who will be in charge of space on Wednesday, when he speaks to parliament. The probability is that it will remain with DG Enterprise. Maroš Šefčovič who inherits the Energy Union Vice Presidency instead of the former Slovenian unsuccessful candidate, will oversee the Transport portfolio. This has been added to the initial description of the position. This change was made in an effort to calm the Transport Committee MEPs who were angered at loosing Šefčovič and viewed Bulc as too inexperienced.

Maroš Šefčovič is being auditioned today, before the entire European Parliament votes on the Commission proposal on Wednesday the 22nd of October. Jean-Claude Junjker, the President of the Commission, will address the Parliament before the vote.