30.09, 1330 – Johannes Hahn (Neighbourhood Policy)

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Political Flair 7.5 / 10
Credibility 9 / 10
Energy 7 / 10
Warmth 8/ 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 6/ 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 9 / 10
Overall rating 7.5 / 10

Hahn was a completely mixed bag. I wanted to write him off as a technocrat hiding behind the safety of process and a set-piece speech. On the one hand he was relaxed and approachable during the Q&A, combining gravitas and sincerity with flashes of an impish wit (both in English and his native German). But the speech was mostly dull and safe. By and large an uncontroversial second-term candidate, Hahn set out his stall with three broad brush ‘make or break’ issues (the rule of law, economy and democracy) which no one sensible could really take issue with. However, he frog marched through the speech at a pace that was practically brusque and didn’t alter his tone when moving from relatively untroubled countries such as Armenia to Syria, Egypt and Libya. There were very few personal anecdotes (beyond referring to his experience at DG Regio) and there weren’t a great deal of numbers, although he did say englargement was off the table for the next 5 years. His body language warmed up considerably once the Q&A started but he was evasive on migrants and refugees and resorted to the safe EU language of ‘sustainable solutions’. Overall, he was a bit frustrating to watch. This is clearly a man who is confident of his material, isn’t afraid of the limelight but can’t be bothered to add any stardust or passion. Which is a bit of a shame but not a deal breaker.

Photo: CC License from Flickr – original source here.

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