01.10, 1800 – Miguel Arias Cañete (Climate Action & Energy)

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Political Flair 10 / 10
Credibility 9 / 10
Energy 9 / 10
Warmth 7 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 7 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP ? / 10
Overall rating 9 / 10

Note: the controversy surrounding Canete makes me wonder if we should have opened a separate category for ‘character’ credibility. Let us know what you think. Thanks.

Plagued by accusations of sexism and conflicts of interest, Canete’s hearing was always going to be one of the most colourful. In the event, he he came out of the box swinging but did not deliver a flawless performance.

Bombastic in manner and imposing in stature, Canete raced through his (largely technocratic) opening speech in a volley of Spanish that left the interpreter sounding breathless and stressed.

Clearly watching the clock, Canete decided to deal with the character issues up front, which, depending on your view point, was a a proactive gesture towards transparency, or a cynical attempt to shoot your enemy’s fox outside your hen house. (Sorry for all the mixed metaphors today but I’m in a hurry to get this piece out).

In the end, he apologised for making sexist remarks earlier in the year and argued that he had sold his wife and son’s (and his own) shares in family related oil forms.  He held firm on this when pressed about his brother in law in the Q&A (which he handled in flawless English and French), even going as far as to explain that it takes 3-5 days to sell shares in Spain.

Canete also demonstrated considerable knowledge about renewable energy and the structural problems within Europe’s energy markets. This grasp of detail combined with a passionate defence of his green credentials (including a personal anecdote from his time as Environment Minister in Spain) made it very difficult for his critics (the Greens and Spanish Socialists) to land any real blows. How, after all, are you supposed to criticise a man who counters UKIP’s climate sceptic questioning with the phrase: ‘global warming is not a question of opinions, it’s a question of statistics’?

So yes, controversial. But also impressive and knowledgable.

Will this be enough to get him through?  I have no idea. I’ve given him a very high score for his performance in the Q&A and knowledge (hence he does well for credibility). But clearly others feel he is not a credible candidate. And he still could be the one that the EP sends back. But it won’t be on the basis of this hearing.

Photo: CC License from Flickr – original source here.

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