06.10, 1830 – Andrus Ansip (Digital)

ansip

Political Flair 5 / 10
Credibility 8 / 10
Energy 5 / 10
Warmth 4 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 6 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 9 / 10
Overall rating 6 / 10

Cautious yet reasonably concrete are the words that spring to mind to describe Ansip’s performance.

His opening statement was delivered in English, slowly and carefully, and essentially just reading from his notes, and looking up to engage MEPs in eye contact at the end of each section. While his style was far from engaging, it was nevertheless stable and reassuring, giving the impression that he is someone that can command some trust. He made many references to his 9 years as Prime Minister of Estonia, and what he had learnt in that time when it comes to digitalisation – here is someone whose experience matches the portfolio Juncker has allocated to him.

Ansip also had the right lines when it came to the substance. We do not yet have a Single Market ready for the digital age, he said, but it is important that we should not regulate everything, but do need to create the right legal environment. This of course will be done in close consultation with the European Parliament.

He also made a fair effort to make his ideas concrete: “People are the starting point for everything […] what Europe can do to improve people’s quality of life,” he said, going on to explain how he thought that security and confidence, and protection of privacy, are the cornerstone of the digital single market. He also promised to look at copyright reform, and to reduce barriers to cross-border trade in the Single Market online. There were some internal points for the Commission too – paperless government can work, he said, and eInvoices and eProcurement should be introduced in the Commission by 2015, and eSignatures by the end of the mandate.

Ansip’s responses to questions – mostly in English, and sometimes in Estonian – were in a similar vein. He showed a decent grasp of his subject, and particularly when it came to points about government services online showed greater personal steel and inner commitment to these issues. He was also asked about his Communist past – “my past is open and transparent” he said, for the first time with a little edge in his voice.

We are “only limited by our imagination” he said in his level monotone at the end of his opening statement. Perhaps so, but a listener is left wondering how much imagination Ansip himself has. Here was a calm, grey, knowledgeable and reassuring figure, who will do a solid job.

Photo: CC License from flickr – original source here.

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