Steep learning curve for new Transport Commissioner

The EU has a new Transport Commissioner – her candidacy came as a surprise, her colourful CV – as well. A closer look reveals she might be just what EU’s transport sector needs – outside-the-box thinker who is up for some big challenges.

Violeta Bulc, a 50-year-old entrepreneur with an IT masters and less than a month experience as a Minister in Slovenia will serve as the new Transport Commissioner in the Juncker Commission[1]. Prior to her nomination for the position, Ms Bulc was little-known both at home and in Brussels. But that changed almost overnight. Her blog and rather vibrant personal experience attracted attention: a political novice, trained as a shaman and fire-walker with no “Transport” experience.

Yet her lack of industry experience might not necessarily be an obstacle. She passed the hearing in the European Parliament Transport Committee only after 4 days of preparation. She managed to convince EU deputies that she is fit for the “job”, mapping out existing issues in the transport sector and speaking passionately about the priorities. Bulc also did not shy away from taking a stance against social dumping, one of the nagging problems in the entire transport sector, including aviation.  

The EU Commission, which has taken office on 1 Nov, will be in place for a five year term. Ms Bulc will take charge of a considerable number of unfinished projects:  ranging from the Single European Sky to the 4th railways package.  The Commissioner will then face the real challenge to get in-depth understanding about this very broad portfolio and propose strategic solutions. Aviation, only one of the pillars in transport in addition to road, maritime and rail, has a long list of issues that need attention. Social dumping, Flags of Convenience, Single European Sky, safety oversight, pilot training issues and air transport agreements with 3rd countries are only topping the list. ECA is looking forward to working with the new Commissioner, shifting the focus from problems to their solutions.

[1] Mrs Bulc’s nomination came after Alenka Bratusek pulled out of the race and Jean-Claude Juncker had to reshuffle the portfolios (promoting the previous nominee Maroš Šefčovič to Vice-President).