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06/12/2016

How geeky is the new Commission?

EU Elections 2014

How geeky is the new Commission?

Jyrki Katainen, the new Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, is not a bit user of social media. [European Peoples Party/Flickr]

Some of the new European Commissioners, including Günther Oettinger, tasked with the Digital Economy portfolio, are lagging behind in their digital communications. Particularly on Twitter. EurActiv France reports.

Certain new Commissioners, due to take up their roles on 1 November, are tech savvy, or ‘geeks’, while others appear to have discovered social networks for the first time on the day of their nomination.

Some Commissioners late to the party

Of the 28 European Commissioners announced on 10 September, 21 already had a Twitter account, even if they were not always very active on the network.

Jyrki Katainen, the Finnish nominee and former Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, does not appear to be the least bit interested in social media. Before his latest nomination, his Twitter account had only 134 followers, and only followed 2 other accounts: those of his spokesperson, and a member of his cabinet.

Although his account was created in 2009, it was not until after Katainen’s nomination for the position of Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness that he wrote his first Tweet.

The announcement of the new executive on 10 September boosted the number of Twitter users following the new Commissioners by several hundreds in a matter of hours. The news caused such waves on the social network that shortly afterwards, Jyrki Katainen’s following had multiplied by nearly 20.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the new Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society is hardly a Twitter role model. Since opening his account in 2012, Günther Oettinger has only tweeted 187 times, falling completely silent on the network between 23 July and 10 September.

 >> Read: The paradoxical appointments of the new Commission (In French)

Time to join the club

If three quarters of the new Commissioners were, more or less, Twitter users before their nominations, the other seven were not. Andrus Ansip from Estonia, Dimitris Avramopoulos from Greece, El?bieta Bie?kowska from Poland, Jonathan Hill from the UK, V?ra Jourová from the Czech Republic, Karmenu Vella from Malta, Christos Stylianides from Cyprus and Frans Timmermans from the Netherlands were all either absent or silent on the network.

Beware of false accounts

The absence of some of these prominent figures on the social network has left space for the creation of “false accounts”. Within three hours of the nominations, a false account was opened in the name of the new Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Jonathan Hill. In just a few minutes, this account had already gained more than 400 followers.

I join Twitter now. Thanks.

— Jonathan Hill (@LordJHill) 10 September 2014

This account was rapidly exposed by the spokesperson of the British Commissioner, and was closed.

Karmenu Vella has also reported a false account in his name 

The “tweeters” of the new Commission

However, the new Commission does boast a number of real Twitter experts. The Tweeting champion is Commissioner Kristalina Gueorgieva, with over 5400 tweets, followed by the High Representative of the Union, Federica Mogherini, with over 4400, and the Danish nominee Margrethe Vestager, with almost 4300.

In terms of popularity, the prize goes to the French nominee Pierre Moscovici, whose account @pierremoscovici has 108,000 followers. He is also one of the most prolific tweeters of the new Commission, with over 3800 tweets.

No surprise that these Twitter experts were the first to congratulate themselves for their recent Commission nominations.

For his part, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is relatively inactive on Twitter, his tweets totaling less than 900. However, he is one of the most popular Commissioners on the social network, his following rising to 60,200 since the announcement of the new Commission.

Juncker made technology one of the priorities of his campaign, saying he wanted to “make better use of the unlimited possibilities offered by digital technology”. In July, the former Commissioner in charge of digital technology, Neelie Kroes, called for Juncker to establish a fully digital team.

 >> Read: Digitise new Commissioners, Kroes tells Juncker

Background

The EU's digital strategy aims to support the digital sector and ensure sustainable economic development.

The Commission believes that if the business sector adopts 'cloud computing' systems en masse, 3.5 million new jobs could be created by 2020 and the European economy could benefit by up to 160 billion euro per year.

The 20 million small and medium sized businesses in Europe are the drivers of economic growth, but they are also slow to adopt new technologies. Cloud computing' involves a collection of processes, consisting of using the internet to access the processing and storage power of remote servers.

Timeline

October 2014: the European Parliament will confirm or reject the new Commission.

1 November 2014: target date for the beginning of the new Commission.