Romania’s candidate to become European Commissioner, Adina-Ioana Vălean, received the green light from members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to become Brussels’ next transport chief following a three-hour hearing on Thursday. The 51-year old was approved by the parliament’s transport committee and main political groups, paving the way for her to take on the position of transport commissioner in the Commission led by president-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Vălean is Romania’s second pick for the role, after Bucharest’s first candidate, Rovana Plumb, was blocked by the EP’s affairs committee on conflict of interest concerns.
During the hearing in Brussels, Vălean followed the mission statements she was given by von der Leyen and said that the European Green Deal, one of von der Leyen’s priorities for the next commission, cannot be completed without transport at its core. But the greening of mobility must serve the interests of citizens, businesses, and the economy in the best way possible, she stressed.
In response to a question of an MEP if she finally will complete the much-delayed Single European Sky (SES), Vălean pledged she would push to unlock the file—which is blocked by member states—and achieve the completion of SES to reduce airspace congestion and emissions.
Quizzed on her stance on the introduction of an EU-wide tax on kerosene, Vălean remained cautious and stated that she did not exclude it though she said introducing a tax on conventional jet fuel would risk increasing fares and put a burden on mobility. People have the right to move freely, she insisted, warning also that the revenues will go into national budgets and there is no guarantee these will be invested to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint. A basket of measures is needed to reduce air transport’s CO2 emissions, Vălean said. While acknowledging some EU member states already are looking to apply a tax on kerosene, she advised waiting to see how this unwinds, taking into consideration the global aspect of aviation and the need to safeguard the competitiveness of the sector.
Vălean has a master's degree in European Integration and Security Studies, postgraduate studies in National Security and Defence Management and a bachelor's degree in mathematics. She became an MEP in January 2007 when Romania joined the EU and is currently the chairwoman of the EP’s energy and industry committee. She also served as chair of the EP’s Environment Committee, giving her experience on files such as the EU emissions trading scheme and CORSIA. Vălean is a member of the European People's Party, which groups conservative and liberal-conservative member parties.
Next steps include a final EP vote in plenary on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole. This is scheduled for November 27, in Strasbourg. Von der Leyen has now secured the approval of 26 commissioners, leaving only Hungary’s nominee still in doubt.