20.10, 1900 – Violeta Bulc (Transport)


Political Flair 7.5/ 10
Credibility 7.5/ 10
Energy 7.5 / 10
Warmth 8 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 7.5 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 8/ 10
Overall rating 7.5 / 10

Bulc is the new Slovenian nominee, replacing Alenka Bratušek. The review of Bratušek’s hearing is here. Šefčovič will replace Bratušek as VP Energy Union, and Bulc will have a hearing about the Transport portfolio that was previously Šefčovič’s position. The review of Šefčovič’s first hearing (on Transport) is here.

So this was interesting because Jon and I disagreed completely about Bulc (he didn’t rate her, whereas I was pleasantly surprised).

From my perspective, despite the nature of her appointment and some of the scurrilous commentary which had preceded the hearing, Bulc actually delivered a solid if unspectacular performance. She was anything but the fruitcake that the media would have liked to portray her as.

If anything, the speech was deadly dull (lots of ‘essential backbones’ (eh?) and ‘solutions’) and I have to confess that as soon as she started talking about ‘integration’, infrastructure’ and ‘innovation’ I wanted to put a biro through my eye in despair.

But you have to pity Bulc and her speechwriters who had to mop up what was left after Sefcovic’s first effort. But once it was over she did much better with the Q&A. There were some nice stories (including about her time as manager of Slovenia’s cohesion funds, travelling to airports in the Hebrides and Slovenia) which seemed genuine and showed an ability to communicate what is, frankly, an unsexy brief, to audiences outside Brussels.

She also made the right noises about ‘social dumping’ (she’s not a fan in case you were wondering) and Ebola (the EU shouldn’t restrict transport systems to combat it). And her energy levels, eye contact and warmth were mostly good.

The downsides were a lack of  overall vision (she was definitely a bit too on message), too lengthy answers and an absence of really hard facts. But she seemed like a real person, showed an ability to get to grips with a brief quickly and was calm and authoritative. My sense is that she’ll be good if given the right support and doesn’t borrow too heavily from the EU Lexicon when she goes out to meet people.

Photo: CC License from Flickr – original source here.

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