Author Archives: Anita

07.10, 1300 – Jonathan Hill (2nd Hearing)

This is the second hearing for Jonathan Hill. The first hearing review can be found here.
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Political Flair 9 / 10
Credibility 7 / 10
Energy 9 / 10
Warmth 9 / 10
Ability to connect with people outside Brussels 7 / 10
Likelihood of being approved by the EP 7 / 10
Overall rating 8,5 / 10

It needed to be straight down to business today for Jonathan Hill who didn’t need to prove that he’s a jolly nice chap nor that he *hearts* the EU. He just needed to prove that he knows the detail of the job ahead of him.

A smiling but clearly nervous Hill got a joke in within the first 10 seconds. And even though it could open him up to more accusations re his charm (an apparent crime amongst MEPs), it actually broke the palpable tension in the room and even watching the livestream, you could feel some of the stress flowing away.

Settling into the show, instead of listing what he wanted to do for the next five years, Hill told a story about the EU in 2019. It’s all going to be rosy apparently, but it was a good way to avoid a boring tick-box approach. Hill mentioned trust a couple of times (if you say it enough….) and then pulled a bit of a masterstroke by going into detail about SMEs taking on the big guys, leaving us in no doubt as to which side he is on.

During the questions, Hill got to show off his knowledge. And he dropped enough acronyms (SDG, CMU etc etc) to show that he now knows his stuff. Completely baffling to most people of course, but today was the day for playing to the MEPs.

After a vaguely plausible answer to the first six-million dollar question on his previous lobbying clients, Hill took the gloves off to Sven Giegold’s follow up question. Any implication that he is in the pocket of anyone Is. Not. True. he said, glaring at Giegold while making sure we all know they have already had several conversations on the subject. And while I’m not sure that calling a valid question is a “red herring” is wise, the steely side that Hill showed in shutting it down can do him some good.

A solid show. More tough roast beef than plum pudding. More Gary Oldman than Hugh Grant. Let’s see if MEPs go for it

Photo: CC License from flickr – original source here.

30.09, 1330 – Dimitris Avramopoulos (Migration & Home Affairs)

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Political Flair 8 / 10
Credibility 8 / 10
Energy 9 / 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 the confidence and authority of the political veteran, Dimitris Avramopoulos launched into a fast-paced, punchy opening speech. Migration & Home Affairs is a sensitive and explosive portfolio and Avramopoulos made no attempt to play it soft, using words like “exploding”, “struggling”, “threats” and “ghettos” in the first two minutes of his speech. No story-telling here: there were many issues to get through. Perhaps too many though, as it required concentrated listening to absorb them all, and Avramopoulos had to rush through the end of his speech to beat the clock.

Avramopoulos exuded confidence in his delivery (although one camera angle clearly showed a nervously bouncing leg). Despite flying through pages and pages of speaking notes, he gave the impression that this speech was his alone.

The pace slowed down for the questions: so much so that Avramopoulos complained that the clock restrictions were stressing him out. He continued to deliver answers in a confident, sometimes uncompromising, style. This was not a lighthearted delivery – but perhaps any joviality would be misplaced given the portfolio Avramopoulos faces.

Photo: CC License from Flickr – original source here.

30.9, 0900 – Carlos Moedas (Research)

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

Carlos Moedas is relatively new to politics and to Brussels. Pity then that his opening statement sounded like a rerun of speeches we’ve already heard over lukewarm wine and crab sandwiches somewhere in Brussels. Moedas commendably started his opening statement with his life story. It fell a bit flat though – not because of his impressive journey from a disadvantaged region of Portugal – but because it was peppered with clichés that hardly resonate beyond Brussels: “unique European values”, “instruments of European solidarity”, “the European project”… He used the first five minutes of his statement to demonstrate how much he loves the EU – without a mention of the job assigned to him.

He continued with the abstract Euro jargon (“competitiveness”, “European semester”) through his description of his take on the research & innovation job ahead. Structuring his priorities into three areas was good, however. And then – at last – we saw a lift in energy as he rounded up his statement: saying he would focus on “delivery, delivery, delivery” and sounded convinced about “breaking silos”.

When it came to the questions, Moedas seemed to start getting into it. He gave concise and confident answers that were well-structured. A genuine enthusiasm started to shine through, which was conveyed in his body language, tone, an occasional smile and his citing of some concrete examples. The capability to be more compelling is there in Moedas, let’s hope he lets it break out.

Photo: CC License from Flickr – original source here.

30.09, 0900 – Vytenis Andriukaitis (Health & Food Safety)

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

You have to hand it to Vytenis Andriukaitis. Earning a round of applause from MEPs for your opening statement is no mean feat. But Andriukaitis got right in there telling his life story – starting in the gulag and rising to over 20 years “saving lives” as a doctor. It was delivered with feeling, using emotive language (“trust”, “my calling”) and through no less than four languages. He gave the impression – unlike some others – that he relishes the prospect of his new job.

Andriukaitis’s performance was not just about emotion and storytelling though. He is knowledgeable: he repeated the fact that he is a doctor to illustrate his knowledge. And honest: he stated that he still has more to learn about his portfolio. He answered questions throughout – even those where he sat on the fence – with confidence and conviction, saying several times “my position is clear”. He kept his answers short and used some useful real-life examples such as when talking about vaccinations. We rarely saw a smile from Andriukaitis but instead of coming across as stern or aloof, this reflects a man who is serious about the task ahead.

Photo: CC License from Wikipedia – original source here.