The collapse of Viorica Dancila‘s Socialist government in early October and the widespread political uncertainty that followed the rejection of Rovana Plumb on grounds of conflict of interest left Romania without a Commissioner-designate for Ursula von der Leyen‘s cabinet.

The recently approved government of Ludovic Orban, leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL), put forward two proposals for EU’s transport portfolio, ending a two-month deadlock over Romania’s final Commissioner pick. After holding interviews with both, the President-elect, von der Leyen, approved MEP Adina-Ioana Valean over the Vice-Chair of the European People’s Party, Siegfried Muresan for her cabinet.

The Commission’s transition team characterised Valean as an experienced MEP who has gathered experience on topics related to the transport portfolio, as she has been a Rapporteur for the Connecting Europe Facility, the budget program that funds infrastructure for transport, energy, and digital services. Valean’s experience extends beyond the portfolio’s needs as she has been listed as Europe’s five most influential MEPs.

Valean, 51, joined European politics on the eve of Romania’s membership in the EU. She is currently chairing the Parliament’s energy and industry committee, while in the past, she also served as Vice-President of and President of the Commission for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

“Until Mr Musk colonises Mars, this is the only planet we have to live on,” Valean described in her article for the 2019 edition of Our World while discussing the challenges that the 28-country bloc has to face and urged the European Union to be at the forefront in the fight against global warming.

Valean has always been an advocate of European unity, a sentiment the ex-chair of the ENVI committee described in her Our World article.

Part of a gender-balanced Commission

Following France’s footsteps, who had already nominated Thierry Breton as a replacement for Sylvie Goulard for the Internal Market portfolio, von der Leyen had to make a last-ditch effort to shape a near-gender-balanced Commission.

Despite Muresan’s political allies in the EPP, Valean’s selection is a testament not only to her own superior qualities as a candidate but also to von der Leyen’s ruthlessness in choosing the candidate she perceives to be better qualified over anything else.