Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Commission edited out Juncker gaffe

  • Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (l) with deputy chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva (r).

A European Commission spokeswoman has defended the practice of altering transcripts of official speeches.

At the institution's daily briefing on Tuesday (8 November), journalists asked deputy chief spokeswoman Mina Andreeva why there were lines missing from the transcript of a speech given by president Jean-Claude Juncker a day earlier.

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Speaking to the European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC), he told Italy to stop blaming the commission over EU fiscal rules, and said that the cost of migrants and earthquake reconstructions would only increase the country’s deficit by 0.1 percent of GDP.

But the Italian authorities, currently negotiating some flexibility with EU budget rules to exceed its deficit targets, have earmarked 0.4 percent of GDP, or €6 billion, to this additional spending.

Andreeva said there were ”many figures circulating”, none that were set in stone yet, and referred to EU commissioner for economic affairs, Pierre Moscovici, who mentioned the 0.4 percent figure at a press conference on Monday evening.

When asked why the phrases had been cut out, she said commission staff were trying to make journalists' work easier.

”Sometimes it takes a long time to transcribe what has actually be said. We make sure that there is something that you can already use which does not change the message," she said.

"We would never modify anything that the president said because he is the highest authority of the commission.”

She encouraged reporters to use the authorised versions because they were ”safe”, but said live speeches and recordings were also available.

The transcript of Juncker's speech wasn't entirely cleared of controversy though.

For example, he poked fun at refugees settling in Luxembourg, his home country, under the EU relocation scheme.

"We found 53 after explaining to them that it was close to Germany. Not all are still there," he said, adding that it was "scandalous" that refugees didn't want to go to places other than Germany.

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The number of French MEPs will grow from 74 to 79, while Spanish MEPs will increase in number from 54 to 59. Italy, the Netherlands, and Ireland will also get more MEPs, but Germany is already at the maximum allowed.

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EU defence fund is expected to hand out €500m to companies across the EU if they work together on 'defence products'. Under the current proposal, the development of weapons of mass destruction would not be excluded.

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The president of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer, said the bank had high standards - but did not explain why an anti-fraud report on a loan to Volkswagen was being kept secret.

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