01.10, 1330 – Věra Jourová (Justice, Consumers & Gender Equality)

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Political Flair 7 / 10
Credibility 8 / 10
Energy 6/ 10
Warmth  7/ 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 6 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 7.5/ 10
Overall rating 7/ 10

Tasked with a new portfolio that combines the sensitive areas of justice, gender and consumers, Jourova needed to find an early leitmotif that could yoke these three seemingly disparate themes together without making it look like a random shopping list. In the end she went for ‘more choice, more protection, more trust’, using an uncontroversial  tricolon to create a red thread that will ‘put people’ at the centre of her mandate.

This was also a deeply personal speech, citing Jourova’s experience of being wrongfully imprisoned for corruption, as well as a reference to Czech national hero Vaclav Havel as a champion of the values that Europeans hold dear.

So far, so catch-all, so crowd-pleasing. And Jourova will have hit all the key dog whistle words needed to mobilise the groups she’s been assigned to protecting. That said, some MEPs were clearly annoyed that she will have to share these issues with other Commissioners andhow this works in practise may well be a problem.

In terms of delivery, Jourova came across as sincere and credible and she got a round of applause at the end of the hearing when she conceded she was tired and thanked the MEPs for the nice and unexpected atmosphere. And at times she even looked as though she couldn’t believe her luck that she was sitting there being interviewed for this job.  But she came across as a little cool and lacking in energy, which is a shame since she clearly feels her experience at the sharp end of the Czech justice system has given her the fire in her belly to do this job well.  Again, this comes down to reading off the page and she probably also has a naturally low key style.  But I have marked her down (possibly a bit unfairly) because she didn’t communicate her internal enthusiasm convincingly enough.

Jourova has a real chance to use her portfolio to connect with Europeans who feel that the EU has brought them nothing but trouble. But her team will need to work hard to find real stories  (noticeably absent from her speech) to back up her argument that her term will ‘put people’ at the centre. Otherwise the talk of women’s and Roma rights and  creating a ‘fairer’ single market will remain lofty legalese that rings hollow in the ears of people outside Brussels.

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