06.10, 1830 – Federica Mogherini (High Rep for Foreign Policy)

mogherini

Political Flair 8/ 10
Credibility 9/ 10
Energy 9 / 10
Warmth 8 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 7 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 9.5/ 10
Overall rating 8 / 10

Mogherini’s hearing was always going to be scrutinised for evidence of a pro-Russia bias and proportionately she did receive more questions on this topic than on others. However, in the event she was completely on message and across the brief almost to the point of being a bit dull.

But she had gravitas, came across as a listener (a skill which also served her predecessor Catherine Ashton well in relation to Iran and Kosovo) and seemed calm if a bit nervous. And there was the odd flash of charm and self-deprecating wit too. Speaking in English and apologising to the French speakers, she won smiles up front by saying that it would be impossible for her to speak in Italian and say everything she needed to in fifteen minutes.

We had all the buzz-words that the MEPs would have wanted to hear without Mogherini actually sucking up to them as the ‘conscience’ of the EU (which is how Malmstrom referred to them in her hearing).

So there were pledges to appear in front of the EP more often than Ashton, as well as saying the EU should give ‘full support’ to Ukraine and treat Russia with a combination ‘of diplomacy and assertiveness’. There was even a bit of role play involving a bear analogy (watch Richard Howitt’s question) which she went along with but (mercifully) knew how to get out of before it became embarrassing.

But there was an awful lot of safe talk about ‘partners’, ‘streamlining’, ‘cross cutting’, ‘strategic’ management of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meetings and NATO. And at one point she seemed to perform a shout out to every single Foreign Affairs partner the EU has ever worked with. There weren’t a great deal of numbers or good stories to make it real for audiences outside Brussels, although she did mention Tunisia as an example of a success story from the Arab uprising and one that should be made more of.

So, in short, this was an unspectacular, safe and very competent performance. If Mogherini is confirmed hopefully she’ll relax a bit and let some of the charm and personality out a bit more. Then she’d be a pretty impressive High Rep both in Brussels and beyond.

Photo: CC License from flickr – original source here.

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