Ursula von der Leyen: now the real work begins

The European Commission has its new President: Ursula von der Leyen. She is currently defence minister in Germany and a member of the CDU, the same party as Angela Merkel. First of all, we must welcome the fact that we finally have a woman at the head of the European Commission. It has taken far too long. This is an important step forward, but it is not enough.

Ms von der Leyen must:

  • work to earn trust. The European Parliament approved her candidacy by a tiny majority. She must recognise that, and build a broad alliance of progressive, democratic voices.
  • fulfil her promises for a climate-friendly and social Europe. Social and environmental sustainability are two sides of the same coin, and transport workers must be heard as we strive for a zero-carbon economy.
  • enhance social dialogue and collective bargaining, as she pledged in her speech to MEPs. Empowered workers and strong unions are the best way to deliver a fairer and more equal Europe.

Transport workers have been second class citizens for too long, subject to social dumping and exploitation in a European single market that leaves them underprotected. In many cases we see that they are losing faith in the EU altogether. We need to give them something to believe in again, delivering on their hopes and concerns. Otherwise we risk seeing them drift towards populist and anti-European voices. It is time for a progressive EU programme with Fair Transport at its heart!

Over the coming months Ms von der Leyen will build her team of Commissioners and set out her work programme. We will be watching closely and lobbying hard to shape the path ahead in these crucial early days.