07.10, 1430 – Frans Timmermans (First Vice President)


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

This was a political performer in his element. Timmermans delivered his opening statement in flawless English, and weaved a story of how Europe mattered to him and why the European Union matters. He spoke swiftly, with some conviction, and with positive and engaging body language. It was almost more like a speech befitting of a Commission President, not a Vice President.

The EU has seen amazing change in 25 years, not least in central and eastern Europe he said. The European Union has also avoided meltdown and fragmentation, and this was welcome. He kept MEPs happy saying that this is “the first European Commission truly born in the European Parliament”.

The European Union is a community of nations and people, he said. EU can be strong if member states are strong, and the strength of member states depends on the strength of the union. He also promised to take debates to National Parliaments.

The nature of Timmermans’s portfolio means he could not be especially concrete on any specifics, although he did say he would work to ensure the implementation of a mandatory lobby register. On the topic of better regulation, it is not about deregulation, he said, and this process must not be an attack on social rights or environmental protection. He was also clear that there must be consistent and scrupulous in the application of the rule of law – both from the Commission and Member States.

Timmermans was even better in his replies to questions, using Dutch, Italian, French and German, as well as English in his replies. He even apologised for not being able to reply in Polish. He showed stature and sharpness, did his best to reply directly to the questions posed, and was not afraid to make very political and ethical points.

He scores 9 and not higher more because his portfolio means he could not be as concrete as he too might have liked. Timmermans is most definitely one to watch in this Commission.

Photo: CC License from flickr – original source here.

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