Sunday

10th Dec 2023

MEP barred from questioning Oettinger on plane trip

  • Oettinger appeared in an EP committe, but was guarded from tough questions (Photo: European Parliament)

Benedek Javor, the Green MEP who first raised a controversial trip by EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger, was stopped on Monday (28 November) from pursuing the issue in a European Parliament hearing.

Chairman of the EP's industry committee, Jerzy Buzek, former parliament president, and European People's Party MEP - the same party as Oettinger - did not let Javor question Oettinger's flight to Budapest last May on the private jet of Klaus Mangold, a businessman with Russian ties

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Democracy means institutions and rules," Buzek said as he cut the Green MEP short, adding: "the issue is under investigation by the commission, and will be explained by the commission and president Juncker."

No investigation has been announced by the commission, with EU executive chief Jean-Claude Juncker saying that he "didn't see why it would deserve a sanction."

Javor wanted to find out if Mangold, whom he called an "unregistered lobbyist", was involved in digital issues, Oettinger's portfolio in the EU executive.

The commission argues that Mangold is not involved in digital issues and that his flight with Oettinger - which it did not recognise as a meeting - does not go against EU rules.

However, the Hungarian government said that it had a framework consulting agreement with Mangold and that the lobbyist had suggested the digital conference to which Oettinger went with him in May.

But Buzek insisted it was not a matter to be raised in the so-called "structured dialogue" with the commissioner, where he was presenting the commission's latest initiatives on the digital single market to the committee.

"Leave this topic if we may ask you, stick to the topic of the agenda," Buzek said, adding that it was for the parliament's constitutional affairs committee to deal with the issue.

Javor said he had never before found that a committee chair would "limit the freedom of expression for MEPs".

It was the first time Guenther Oettinger had appeared before MEPs since EUobserver reported earlier this month that he used Mangold's private jet in a trip that possibly broke EU transparency and code of conduct rules.

Two other Green MEPs, Ernest Maragall, and Michel Reimon also made reference to Oettinger’s trip to Budapest in their questions.

Oettinger did not directly answer the questions but mentioned the flight with Mangold.

The German commissioner said his sole goal travelling to Budapest was to attend a digital conference and that he went again this month, where he made a speech.

He added he wanted the Visegrad Four countries - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia - to contribute to digital development, and that digital cars are a topic where cooperation is possible.

Oettinger again rebuffed earlier suggestions by Javor that he was involved in advising Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban on how to handle commission concerns over the Russian-built and financed Paks II nuclear plant.

"I haven’t been involved with energy for two years," said Oettinger, who held the energy portfolio in the Barroso commission.

MEPs criticise Oettinger's 'judgement'

The German commissioner says it was normal to travel by a private jet owned by a German businessman. MEPs, with the exception of Oettinger's own EPP group, are gearing up to grill him.

EU defends Commissioners' travel costs

The European Commission has defended its use of air taxis for international meetings despite costs of tens of thousands of euros.

Opinion

Tusk's difficult in-tray on Poland's judicial independence

What is obvious is that PiS put in place a set of interlocking safeguards for itself which, even after their political defeat in Poland, will render it very difficult for the new government to restore the rule of law.

Opinion

Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Latest News

  1. How Moldova is trying to control tuberculosis
  2. Many problems to solve in Dubai — honesty about them is good
  3. Sudanese fleeing violence find no haven in Egypt or EU
  4. How should EU reform the humanitarian aid system?
  5. EU suggests visa-bans on Israeli settlers, following US example
  6. EU ministers prepare for all-night fiscal debate
  7. Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief
  8. Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us