Austria endorses Commissioner Hahn for second term

Johannes Hahn, commissaire européen à la politique européenne de voisinage et aux négociations d'élargissement.

The Austrian government will nominate Johannes Hahn, the current Regional Policy Commissioner, for a new term in Brussels, Vienna announced yesterday (1 July).

The announcement was made by Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger, leader of the Austrian people’s party ÖVP, which is affiliated to the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

Hahn’s ÖVP is in a government coalition with the Social Democrats (SP).

“We agreed on Gio Hahn to become EU commissioner”, Spindelegger said, quoted by the Austrian press.

The official nomination by the government should follow next week. Before that, Chancellor Werner Faymann, leader of Social Democrat SP, has to hold talks with the Parliament.

It unclear yet whether Hahn will retain his post as Regional Policy Commissioner, but Spindelegger said he had talked about the issue with Faymann and Jean-Claude Juncker, who was nominated last week to become the next President of the European Commission.

“It does not look bad”, the Vice Chancellor said. Faymann emphasised that Hahn had done “a good job” and was due to be nominated “as soon as possible”.

During his political career, the 56-year-old Hahn worked his way steadily up in the ÖVP in the 1980s and 90s. In 1996, he entered the Vienna City parliament, and in 2003 became a city councilor without portfolio. He was meanwhile chairman of the board of “Novomatic AG” until joining the city council.

From June 2005, Hahn was head of the ÖVP in the City of Vienna. In October the same year, his party came second in the Vienna elections, far behind the ruling Social Democrats. In 2007, Hahn was sworn in as Federal Minister of Science and Research, until he became EU Commissioner in the second Barroso Commission in 2010.

Hahn, who is married and has one son, has successfully battled cancer. He sees himself as a liberal-conservative.

“I stand for modern life-feeling, humane urbanity, and for openness and freedom in politics and society,” he said, quoted by the Austrian English-language website TheLocal.

Austria is said to be happy with Hahn’s regional policy portfolio and would not oppose continuing with it.

In 2009, at the time Hahn was nominated for the first time, it was decided that Commissioners which stay on for a new term would have to change portfolios. This decision is not carved in stone, pundits say, however.

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