The torturous process of selecting Brussels’ new Transport Commissioner is not over yet.
Also, the new A35 Milan-Brescia is apparently yet to prove popular with drivers. Croatian roads referendum threatens Peljesac Bridge and Adriatic-Ionian motorway. Madrid’s eighteenth ever car is up for auction. A new ferry starts between Romania, Georgia and Ukraine. A shocking video demonstrates the dangers of swooping.
EVERYBODY LOVED MAROS.
Firm favourite replaced by new-age kook/focused entrepreneur.
It was indeed too good to be true. Absolutely too good.
Maros Sefcovic, commissioner-designate for Transport (and Space), wowed MEPs at his confirmation hearing earlier this month.
It wasn’t just his confident manner or clear knowledge of the subject matter that convinced parliamentarians but also his sensitivity to the big issues.
He correctly identified ‘Social Dumping’ – workers from one country undercutting those in another – as the biggest issue in road transport.
While he precisely echoed the Commission’s dogged line on the German foreigner vignette – tolls are the best way to maintain roads; still waiting to see the final detail – he did say the EU principle of non-discrimination was ‘dear to me’.
Best of all, he said his first task, unlike his predecessor, would be to set out the Commission’s transport priorities in a new White Paper.
When it subsequently became clear that a reshuffle of the commissioner candidates was inevitable – when MEPs voted 112:13 against nominating the former Slovenian PM as Vice President for Energy Union- the transport committee wrote to incoming-president Jean-Claude Juncker to ask that Sefcovic not be moved.
Sefcovic was moved, promoted in fact, to Vice President (for Energy Union). His replacement, Violeta Bulc, confirmed last night, is a business consultant, only brought into the Slovenian government last month.
Described by Open Europe as ‘quite a colourful personality’, Bulc holds certificates in shamanism and fire-walking and believes strongly in ‘synthropy’ (the creative power of nature).
What that has to do with transport we’ll see on Monday when it’s her turn to be grilled by MEPs.
Update: despite the new-age credentials, Brussels seems to be warming to Violeta Bulc. New Europe journalist Andy Carling (@quarsan) tweeted Friday, ‘Will do well, she’s been impressing people. Hard worker, quick learner, focussed.’ Meanwhile, Bulc herself (@Violeta) retweeted a profile containing the quote ‘Your hearing will be the most watched in a history. MEPs will hate it so much they’ll love it.’ Read the official brief here.
The brand new A35 motorway between Milan and Brescia is so under-used it’s apparently good for a game of football. The operating company BreBeMi insists this video was made before the road opened in July and that it ‘remains focused on the start-up phase of the operation’. The players say the two cars passing on the other carriageway prove the film was made since. A35 is an alternative to the A4 via Bergamo. It cuts the distance by a third but the tolls are 50% greater:
roundup: CROATIA. Campaigners against the motorway privatisation have collected 160,000 signatures in four days. Around 450,000 would force a national referendum. Selling the network would help pay down the massive debts of the national roads operator HAC – and reportedly ensure pensions and salaries for staff – but also release funds for investment in both the Peljesac Bridge project, and the Croatian section of the proposed Adriatic-Ionian motorway. See our Hybrid Drive: mountains and motorway, Trieste-Split. BLACK SEA. A new weekly ferry service between Romania, Gerogia and Ukraine starts today. Operated by UkrFerry.com, from Odessa, using Greifswald, with space for 85 trucks and 150 passengers, the service calls at Constanta, Batumi and Illichivsk in turn. This is in addition to the company’s existing services to Varna, Derince and Haydarpasa.
The driver survived, though seriously injured. This video, which surfaced this week, shows a driver on the E40 coastbound from Brussels ‘swooping’, or cutting it at the last second, to take the Aalter exit. As if the initial impact isn’t bad enough, the truck behind has no choice but to plough through the wreckage. Required watching: