Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission team faces questions from Members of the European Parliament next week – but they already being probed on Twitter.
So how well are the commissioners-designate prepared to engage online – and who will be the social media king or queen of the new Commission?Download our PDF infographic of the new European Commission on Twitter
There are more commissioners-designate on Twitter than serving commissioners – which is no surprise. Despite the fact that the Juncker team has more senior national experience than José Manuel Barroso’s team, they have fewer followers on average (19,000 in Juncker’s team as opposed to 26,500 in Barroso’s). However, their accounts should quickly gain followers – if they survive the hearings.
Pierre Moscovici, a former French finance minister, Commissioner-designate for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, and a relatively early adopter of Twitter, has the largest following – just over 109,000. (Barroso is the most-followed Twitter user in the current team, with 121,000 followers.)
However, Moscovici is not the only social media star in the Juncker team. Federica Mogherini, whose social media skills have been covered by Twiplomacy, is the most active of the commissioners-designate. She tweets 4.57 times a day on average, and regularly engages in conversations – 29% of her tweets are @replies.
Mogherini (pictured right, with Juncker) still tweets mainly in Italian – naturally, for someone who remains her country’s Foreign Minister – but it will be interesting to see whether she switches to greater use of English (or French) when she takes up her new role.
The commissioners-designate tweet almost as much as the current commissioners. However, if we exclude those who are already serving in the Commission, we find that the remaining commissioners-designate tweet only half as often as the old Commission. Hopefully this will improve – and it certainly appears that digital communication will be encouraged by the President-elect.
If so, the new commissioners are sure to engage the Brussels bubble (although a greater challenge is to engage EU citizens more broadly).Download our PDF infographic of Juncker’s European Commission team
Across the Juncker team, an average of 11% of tweets are @replies. But for Margrethe Vestager – the Danish nominee and Commissioner-designate for Competition – two in every five tweets are @replies. Vestager could be more active, but as the earliest adopter she has shown a commitment to engaging on Twitter for more than five years. It remains to be seen whether, as the commissioner for such a sensitive area of policy, she will continue to be so willing to engage.
And there is another – perhaps unlikely – contender to be the top tweeter in Juncker’s team.
Miguel Arias Cañete, the controversial Spanish nominee and Commissioner-designate for Climate Action and Energy, launched his Twitter account in April this year, during his campaign for election to the European Parliament. His account has enjoyed some success. 72% of his tweets are retweeted, on average 217.08 times each.
One tweet got almost 1,600 retweets and nearly 500 favourites:
Perhaps Spain is a special case. It has the most followed MEP (@Pablo_Iglesias_) and stood out in a recent study of social media use in the pre-election period.
¿Dónde estaba Elena Valenciano cada día que 900 mujeres iban al paro? No se la oía piar. Pedazo de progre la señora Valenciano.
— Miguel Arias Cañete (@MAC_europa) May 22, 2014
Arias Cañete has been one of the commissioners most heavily criticised on Twitter ahead of the hearings – and the subject of a parody account (indeed, two of the nominees who are not on Twitter, Frans Timmermans and Jonathan Hill, have also been spoofed online).
But the Spaniard is clearly doing something right. If he survives the hearings, he may have a few social media lessons for his new colleagues.Marek Zaremba-Pike with David O’Leary