Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, has had a long career in politics. From journalist, to diplomat, to MEP, and now to commissioner she has overcome obstacles that would prove dangerous to any politician’s career, particularly a woman’s. At age 14, Crețu lost an eye, which in addition to ruining her basketball career, became an additional challenge that she would overcome in rising to the pinnacle of European Union politics. So who is Corina Crețu? And how did a journalist from Romania, become one of the most important figures in the European Commission, dealing with a portfolio which is crucial to many Member States?
Born in 1967 in Bucharest Romania, Crețu took her left wing politics from her father, who had grown up in a Transylvanian village in the Cold War to become a leading scientist and he believed that politics should be about expanding opportunity. Crețu’s popularity surged as a journalist after gaining a valuable statement from Bill Clinton on Romanian integration, and gained the favor of Romanian President Ion Iliescu.
However, a catastrophic car accident sidelined Crețu for months and as she was recuperating, Iliescu invited her to do media work for his administration. Crețu never returned to journalism.
She served as Iliescu’s spokesperson, scribe, and as a ghostwriter for his memoirs. However, as Iliescu aged out of politics she was asked to run on the left wing of the party as a Romanian senator and was able to win election in 2004.
Out of the shadows
Now with her own political career to advance, Crețu did not disappoint. When she realized that Romania could gain observer status in the EU before its accession she was quick to get involved, citing an interest in international posts and pushing for Romania to make use of its observer status. She gained a spot in the Romanian delegation to the European Parliament in 2005, and in 2007 when Romania acceded into the European Union, she became a full member of the European Parliament.
Crețu proved to be a savvy politician, good at communicating and building alliances between other social parties. As a result, she was able to win re-election in 2009 and in 2014, when she was elected as vice-President of the European Parliament.
Rise to the Commission
Crețu’s rise to the Commission was maybe unexpected for those not familiar with her activity, but not undeserved. The battle however for the nomination was fierce. Dacian Cioloș, who was the incumbent Commissioner for Romania, fought hard to retain his position.
European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker considered Crețu a better candidate, and tapped her for the Regional Policy portfolio. Crețu was smoothly confirmed by the European Parliament, passing her hearing with flying colours.
Time as Commissioner
Since becoming Commissioner, Corina Crețu has been busy attempting to help develop and modernize Europe’s economy as well as deal with issues such as the Greek bailout crisis. One area that Crețu has attempted to change, is energy efficiency, in which she has worked to help boost strategic investment to prevent energy waste.
Member of the European Parliament, Maria Spyraki, is a member of the Regional Development committee of the European Parliament, and has routinely worked with Cretu. Spyraki spoke to New Europe about Crețu:
“Corina Crețu is a very focused Commissioner, always seeking for solutions in the most complicated matters. I’ve had the pleasure to work with her on many aspects on regional development and cohesion policy.
She is always present in our Regional Development Committee meetings in the European Parliament, ready to explain and cooperate with MEPs. Especially on issues related to Greece she works hard in order to close the previous MFF (2007-2013) without the need of any further national contribution, being a huge support for my country.
Commissioner Crețu is not only hard working, and determined, but on a personal level I can say that her intelligence is complemented by her very warm personality.”
Crețu has also lived up to her father’s inspiration of helping those who have less, by taking a strong stance during the Greek bailouts this summer that funding go towards creating new jobs.
Despite her positive role, Crețu has recently been slandered by press seeking to discredit her, allegedly for abusing staff to carry out personal tasks. The allegations originate from a disgruntled former employee, and the Commission has made it clear that indeed there is nothing worthy of investigation. European Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas was very quick to reaffirm the Commission’s faith and support in Crețu’s work:
Crețu has also taken official visits to Romania, in order to consult with PM Ciolos on Romania’s new IT infrastructure project as well as boost governmental efficiency and depoliticization. An avid blogger, blogging two to three times each month the actions of her office and the successes and errors that have been made in Regional Policy and her efforts to fix them going forward. Though Crețu doesn’t have much time to blog, her prioritization of communication and outreach to European Citizens shows her commitment to the European citizens, and the European project.
Cioloș lost the battle to become Commissioner, but his recent rise to the top of Romanian politics and being selected as Prime Minister finds Crețu facing a man with a grudge. Cioloș’ personal dislike for Crețu is no secret, but perhaps his country’s interests should come first. In squaring off against Crețu, Cioloș is confronting head-on a European Commission that continues to lend her its full support, and did in fact reject his candidacy in the first place.