On 10 September 2019, Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen announced her proposals for the future Commissioners, including her proposal for the positions as transport Commissioner Rovana Plumb from Romania. But on 26 September the Legal Affairs committee (JURI) of the European Parliament rejected two of the proposed candidates, Hungarian conservative László Trócsányi (EPP) as well as Romanian socialist Rovana Plumb due to potential conflicts of interest. President of the European Parliament David Sassoli instantly requested further elaboration on the decision to reject both candidates. On 30 September 2019 the JURI committee concluded a second time that both candidates were not fit for the position as Commissioners “on the grounds of conflicts of interest.” The decision was received critically within the EU-institutions as the rejection was seen as being not transparent enough, as for instance GUE/NGL co-president Manon Aubry said.
The decision of the JURI committee means that the European Parliament will not be hearing both candidates. Romania and Hungary now have to propose alternative candidate within the coming days. According to the initial schedule, the Parliament was expected to close the hearing on 8 October and then decide on the candidate recommendations until 17 October. Additional hearing could be held on 14 and 15 October. MEPs should then vote on the new Commission by 23 October, so that it could start working by 1 November. If Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, however, decides to make bigger changes, the process might take longer.
Such further delays should be avoided by any means. Considering the urgency of the matters in the transport sector, the EU has already been in a state of paralysis for far too long. The EU must come back to life as soon as possible. The ambitious targets have been set, NOW it is time to execute. There are a number of urgent issues on the agenda of the transport commission with the mobility package(s) leading the way. Von der Leyen herself writes in her mission letter to her candidate that the new transport commissioner must draft “a comprehensive strategy for sustainable and smart mobility” with contributions to the “zero-pollution ambition”. Decarbonization without the transport sector is not possible, as it is the only economy in the EU with rising emissions. If the climate targets are to be met, quick, diverse and effective measures are needed. At the same time, industrial competitiveness of the EU is under high pressure given the global competition and trade barriers driven by protectionist tendencies. The danger of losing its competitive edge is real and coherent strategies as well as investments are needed to achieve sustainable, future-oriented and inclusive transport economy. There is little room for excessive debates about positions.