Sunday

22nd Jan 2017

Column / Rem@rk@ble

#OettiGate and #OettingAir: from free flight into free fall

  • Twitter can make us smile, but ethics and transparency of public institutions are serious matters, especially in EU’s stormy weather.

This time, it only took 4.5 hours to claim he did nothing wrong.

Just two weeks after global outrage over his racist, sexist and homophobic slur, German EU commissioner Oettinger is in the middle of new media storm for accepting a free trip on a private jet with an unregistered lobbyist nicknamed “Mr Russia”.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

While Twitter is running with the tag #OettiGate (which also refers to some of his many other gaffes), the current affair has picked up its own hashtag: #OettingAir.

Being commissioner for digital matters is no guarantee for digital savvy.

Mr Oettinger prides himself in being the last person to read news in a newspaper, not on a smartphone. And he – or, more likely, his social media person – bluntly shared a German article, quoting its headline; "Allegations of racism? That’s just who he is, our Oetti".

So far, the OettingAir affair has not fared any better.

Mr Oettinger’s account was keen to retweet reports about a Hungarian government official calling the affair “petty revenge” over a nuclear power plant – but this only shows his failure to acknowledge the real issue: ethics and transparency.

Unfortunately even the Commission’s spokesperson either misinterprets the Commission’s own ethics and transparency rules (“It’s not a gift, nor a meeting”), or he pretends not to understand them. I don’t know which is worse.

The legendary @Berlaymonster (no, not Martin Selmayr) commented: This is not a meeting.

While spokesperson parody @MinionAndreva quipped:

On a lighter note, Mr Oettinger’s reply to EUobserver about accepting a free private flight from “Mr Russia” resulted in this Twitter gem.

But even though Twitter can make us smile, ethics and transparency of public institutions are a serious matter, especially in EU’s current stormy climate.

Parody @GOettinger shows how Mr Oettinger’s free flight seems to have transformed into free fall – not just of his reputation, but also of the credibility of the European Commission, and citizen’s trust in the European Union.

A “last chance” commission cannot afford a liability like Mr Oettinger.

Stop feeding ammunition to eurosceptics.

Alice Stollmeyer is a digital advocacy strategist at @StollmeyerEU and a member of EUobserver's board. Her Rem@rk@ble column looks at social media trends about the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey