30.09, 1800 – Christos Stylianides (Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management)

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Political Flair 9 / 10
Credibility 7 / 10
Energy 10 / 10
Warmth 5 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 7 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 9 / 10
Overall rating 8 / 10

Christos “the voice” Stylianides gave a passionate opening statement about the challenges of humanitarian aid. In fact, it was so passionate that he probably could have entertained the chamber without a microphone. If he wanted to demonstrate how forceful a “voice of the voiceless” (that he aims to become) could sound – I think he did quite well. However, giving a passionate speech only works if you are able to alternate your passion with some quiet, reflective points. Here, he clearly failed. We witnessed 10 minutes of pure adrenalin. But then again, considering the occasion we should be thankful that there are still politicians hat show some signs of passion.

Overall, he seemed well-briefed and said the right things. He also talked about his past as a doctor and his background of growing up in Cyprus to make the point that he understands the importance of humanitarian aid and aid workers. He sounded like an experienced politician although he never held a ministerial post back in Cyprus. One of the interesting bits in his speech was his commitment that aid should be based on ‘needs – not on political expediency’ – something that other Commissioners with foreign policy portfolios may disagree with.

Did I mention he sounded passionate? Actually he almost sounded like a NGO worker who was a bit overexcited by the “huge challenges” ahead of him. And he managed to put all those challenges in one long sentence: Ebola, ISIS, South Sudan…  Unfortunately his statement also included some worn-out catch phrases. He wants to become the “spokesperson of the most vulnerable” who also cares about the “forgotten crisis”. He agrees that “prevention is better than cure”, and that the EU should stop with its strategy of doing “too little too late”. Here is an exercise: Make 1 (ONE) sentence using the words “transparency”,“accountability”, “risk assessment”, “constant evaluation”, “resilience building” and “economies of scale” and you’ll get the idea…

Well, after a while it got a bit tiring with all this passion and thankfully the round of questions began. Stylianides also switched from English to Greek which changed the whole atmosphere (at least for the non-Greek speakers). “Dear colleague, thank you for your question…” became the new meme of the hearing. But overall he played it cool, he knew his stuff, he answered to all questions with ease and agreed with a lot of what Parliamentarians suggested (always a good strategy in hearings!).

Stylianides seems like a humble guy. He mentioned a few times that he is still learning about some of the issues. He was also not afraid to say that he does not (yet)  know about a certain topic – a rare thing for politicians to admit. He stressed the need to cooperate with other Commissioners and emphasised his commitment to continue the work of Kristalina Georgieva.

So, don’t expect big surprises when it comes to EU humanitarian aid.

Photo: CC License from Flickr – original source here.

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