Blog: Meet Maroš Šefčovič, the steely former communist who imposed the EU’s Brexit deadline –

For many in the Belgian capital, the 54-year-old polyglot, who speaks English, French and Russian, was a wise choice. As Jean-Claude Juncker’s energy commissioner, he was embroiled in tough trilateral negotiations between the EU, Ukraine and Russia. 

The EU is dependent on Russian gas. At the height of the Ukraine crisis, Russia was threatening to turn off the taps of its gas supplies to Ukraine, robbing the stricken country of valuable transit fees and the bloc of energy supplies. 

Mr Šefčovič, a socialist who ran unsuccessfully to be president of Slovakia, won plaudits from all sides as he managed to negotiate a solution in highly challenging circumstances. 

Dealing with an untrustworthy Russia, some Brussels sources suggest cheekily, is ideal preparation for talks with a UK that goes back on its word. 

Mr Šefčovič, a member of the Communist Party before the fall of the Iron Curtain who studied in both Moscow and at Harvard, is seen as a safe pair of hands. He has been praised by officials for his ability to whip through briefings and his laser-like eye for detail. 

He is well known for his cheerful, friendly  approach and has an unfailing habit of referring to Mr Gove (see video below), the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,  as either “Mike” or the “Chancellor”.

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