02.10, 0900 – Phil Hogan (Agriculture & Rural Development)

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Political Flair 8 / 10
Credibility 9 / 10
Energy 7/ 10
Warmth 6 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 7/ 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 8 / 10
Overall rating 8 / 10

With a shy opening speech, arms crossed, reading a statement with a low and monotone voice, Phil Hogan’s hearing first seemed just like what you don’t want to see to convince people this is a very interesting democratic moment. In this statement, he reminded us of his youth spent in a farm and his political experience at all levels to justify his nomination as Commissioner-designate.

But when the Q&A time arrived he seemed very comfortable with all subjects, often answering the MEPs by looking at them without reading any notes. He also got a laugh from the committee when a British MEP invited him to visit his farm to be conscious of the difficulty farmers face, and have been hard and tough when a Irish MEP’s questionned him on internal Sinn Fail issues during the hearings.

He showed his knowledge and his preparation on the big issues like TTIP, milk quotas or Russian sanctions and their consequences on EU agriculture. When it came to more specific subjects, like olive oil, he recognised with a smile that he did not know yet the subject, saying the olive oil production has not been on his radar while he was in the irish government.  He also reminded the keywords of the Juncker Commission (jobs and growth), quoted Cecilia Malmstrom’s hearing, already showing some collegial framework and mentioned that he will be reporting to 2 VPs in the Commission, especially on biofuels, showing a transversal approach in his portfolio.

In the end I lowered his ability to connect with people outside the bubble because of his opening speech, which was only in English. If the only glance people will have of Phil Hogan are speeches in the press room, he will certainly not be able to engage his audience. But in visiting farms in every country (which he committed to do) and engaging conversations, he can convince a lot of people on his views on EU agriculture policies.

Photo: CC License from flickr – original source here.

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