Bring her a glass of the fine, amber nectar ‘Orval’ or cycle with her to the Mont Ventoux and you will have a friend in Marianne Thyssen. Having her as a friend is a good way to prosper if you are working in education in Europe. As she will become the next ‘education’ Commissioner in Brussels this portfolio receives a boost, because of her qualities.
Learned from the best
Thyssen learned the political trade from some of the best in Brussels, like ‘The Plumber’ Jean Luc Dehaene, the legendary dealmaker, King-maker and negotiator of Belgian politics and EU-Councils. Also Wilfried Martens, as legendary a long serving Prime Minister and chairman of the biggest party in the EP, the christiandemocratic EPP, was one of her mentors. She rose to become the chair of her and their party CD&V and a keyplayer in Belgian and European politics.
As the chairperson of the Belgian representatives in the EPP party she became one of the most influential people within the EP. She was active in the committee on monetary and economic affairs and the one on the environment, health and foodsafety. Thysssen participated in the delegations for the relationship with China and Turkey, both most difficult and important diplomatic and economic agenda’s.
Marianne Thyssen is not an education specialist or a former representative of schools- or teachersunions. Her early background can be found in the complex world of the steering of the public healthcare system in Belgium. Her experience as a typical ‘political animal’ and ‘jack-of-all-trades’ will however help to make the education issues again of main importance, after five years of somewhat sleepy attention from its current Cypriot officeholder. And a Belgian is selfevidently a natural when it comes to dealing with and surviving multilingualism.
The ESU however has already scolded Jean Claude Juncker for eliminating in their view the education-commissioner and focusing Thyssens portfolio on ‘skills’. The present combination of education and culture will also be scrapped. The new EU-commissioner on Internet and Culture will take on this terrain, under the coordination of a new ‘heavy lifter’, the Vice-president for Digital Europe. As earlier in EU-history the portfolio of Neelie Kroes has within five years risen to a key-agenda after she had taken this on.