Monday

21st Jan 2019

Juncker approves new Slovenian commissioner

  • Bulc is an unconventional candidate, a businesswoman who also trained as a shaman and fire-walker (Photo: Natasha Bertaud)

Incoming EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had an "excellent" impression after meeting the new Slovenian commissioner candidate, Violeta Bulc, he told reporters on his way out of the meeting on Tuesday evening (14 October).

Their conversation, which lasted less than an hour, was Juncker's first encounter with the Slovenian newcomer to politics.

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Bulc was put forward last week as a candidate by the Slovenian government to replace Alenka Bratusek, a former prime minister who was rejected by MEPs after a poor performance in her European Parliament hearing.

Bulc is an unconventional candidate, a businesswoman who also trained as a shaman and fire-walker.

Asked by EUobserver how she is preparing for the hearing after the rough treatment of her predecessor, Bulc said she was "really pleasantly surprised with very friendly meetings that we have with everyone here, including with MEPs."

"All the discussions are very constructive," she added.

Bulc would not comment on what portfolio she is to get, saying that it's Juncker's decision which he is to reveal Wednesday.

"He was clear, he wants people who can lead and be in the spirit of their portfolio and his entire strategy for the future of Europe," she said.

In a press statement published late Tuesday, Juncker said he forwarded the name to the EU council representing member states, who need to approve the change to his list of commissioners and publish it in the Official Journal.

According to several EU sources, Juncker agreed with the two main political groups in the European Parliament to give Bulc the transport portfolio and promote Maros Sefcovic to vice-president of the commission in charge of "energy union".

Bulc and Sefcovic will have their hearings in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday. If everything goes smoothly, the entire Juncker commission will be voted on on Wednesday, as planned.

The EU parliament is "not out for blood" this time, sources say, with the two largest groups having an interest to see the new EU commission take office on 1 November.

For the centre-right EPP, it is a matter of seeing their Spitzenkandidat - Juncker - get to work as soon as possible.

For the Socialist family, especially the Socialist governments in France and Italy, they want to see Pierre Moscovici take over the economics portfolio from the current hawkish commissioner, Jyrki Katainen, before a ruling on France's budget deficit is due.

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Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

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