Austrian politician Johannes Hahn has been designated EU ‘Budget and Administration’ Commissioner by incoming EU Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Yesterday, October, 3, he was approved by the European Parliament. It will be Hahn’s third term as commissioner. But who is he?
Hahn, 61, became leader of the Vienna ÖVP – the center-right Austrian People’s Party – in 1992, continuing in various leadership roles until becoming CEO of the international gambling company Novomatic. He returned to politics as Minister for Science and Research (Wissenschaftsminister) from 2007-10, creating quite a diverse background outside of the bloc.
He first served as Austria’s Commissioner in 2010, overseeing regional policy, and from 2014, the bloc’s enlargement policies, where his responsibilities included deepening relations with EU neighbors, promoting stability at Europe’s borders and helping nearby countries develop democratic institutions, and strengthening economic governance and competitiveness – all focused on further strengthening the European image.
When shaping her new team, Von der Leyen created the portfolio title: “Protecting the European Way of Life” for Greek politician Margaritas Schinas to include migration, security, employment, and education policy – a grouping the center and left-leaning politicians see as misleading and dangerous.
“I don’t like the idea that the European way of life is opposed to migration,” said Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Accepting those that come from far away is part of the European way of life.” Hahn, however, defended von der Leyen: “I think we can be proud, we should be proud, and we should be more self-confident about the European way of life.”
As one of the longest-serving EU Commissioners, Hahn is widely respected. Austria’s interim Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein has nominated him to serve as Austria’s EU Commissioner for a third term, while Sebastian Kurz, too, extended his support: “I congratulate [him] on his new role as EU Budget Commissioner,” he said. “As a European politician recognized across party lines, he will ensure that the right course is set for a European Union that is strong in the world.”