Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

Sallie Anderson

The EU Commission confessed Monday (6 July) “technical mistakes” were made throughout the production of a Croatian election campaign video in which commission president Ursula von der Leyen appears, tossing her political weight behind the judgment conservative party because nation.

The commission argued on Monday that von der Leyen was meant to be speaking in her individual capability – which was not made clear inthe video


Von der Leyen, together with other senior political leaders from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) consisting of Croatian commissioner Dubravka Suica, appeared in the video posted by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Von der Leyen’s involvement appears to be in breach with the commission’s guidelines which state that commissioners need to avoid “making public statements or interventions on behalf of any political party” other than from when they withdraw from the commission task tocampaign


The commission, nevertheless, stated errors were made, however no breach has actually been devoted.

” She [von der Leyen] appreciated in her intentions all her dedications,” commission spokesperson, Eric Mamer stated on Monday.

According to Mamer, a really brief video clip was tape-recorded at the demand of Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic’soffice


“Technical mistakes” were devoted by not altering the background – including the EU commission head office – to the particular video clip, and by including the president’s title to the video in post- production in Zagreb, according to the commission’s account of occasions.

“The president wishes to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place to avoid such an unintentional error creeping in in the future,” Mamer stated, without explaining.

The commission likewise argued that von der Leyen has the ability to take part in a national campaign in an individual capability.

“She president is a member of the EPP, in this context she can express political views,” Mamer stated.

“Clearly the president is of the view that it is a good thing for European democracy that members of the college can engage in active political life,” the spokesperson stated, including that”appropriate conditions must apply”


The commissioners’ standard procedure restricts leading authorities from making public declarations on behalf of any political organisation, however includes that”this is without prejudice to the right of commissioners to express their personal opinions”


The Great Lobby civil organisation has lodged a complaint with the EU ombudsman, supervising the conduct of EU authorities and organizations, stating von der Leyen remains in breach of the commission’s own guidelines.

In a declaration the NGO stated that describing von der Leyen’s recommendation as “personal opinion” is “moot” as it was tape-recorded and provided from her office in the commission’s HQ, utilizing her institutional title.

The Great Lobby argues that von der Leyen “failed to take any measure that could have allowed to qualify her contribution as ‘personal'”.

Asked if von der Leyen will likewise add her voice to the governmental elections in Poland this Sunday, the commission spokesperson stated the commission chief will choose a case-by-case basis.

In Poland, under the incumbent president Andrzej Duda, Warsaw had a number of run ins with EU law, while his opposition, Rafal Trzaskowski is an EPP member – the exact same political family as von der Leyen.

In 2015, commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Vera Jourova included in campaign videos in the Slovak governmental election campaign on behalf of their fellow commissioner Maros Sefcovic.

At the time, the commission once again stated it was not in offense of the standard procedure, as it was not marketing however”colleagues appreciating and supporting each other”


Previously this year, enhancement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi shared a tweet by the Italian reactionary Fratelli d’Italia, which he later on erased, stating he did not any”intention of getting involved in Italian politics nor to support any particular party”


How political?

The commission has for years faced the desire to be more political, as national-populism has actually been on the rise, while preserving self-reliance from domestic national federal governments and being the impartial enforcer of EU guidelines.

The EU Parliament has actually attempted to press the commission to be a more political organization, while the council of member states primarily desire it to be an apolitical secretariat – as much as ispossible


Former EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker stated previously that remaining quiet while Brexit advocates informed “lies” prior to the UK’s 2016 referendum was the greatest error he has actually made as EU chief executive.

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