Monday

6th Jul 2020

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”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Investigation

German EU commissioner rejects wrongdoing

Oettinger said he used pro-Russia lobbyist's jet because it was the only way to make dinner in Budapest, but who paid for the trip?

Column / Rem@rk@ble

Juncker’s time is running out

EU Commission chief's defensive media blitz reinforces the very thing he wants to deny: It’s time to leave.

MEP barred from questioning Oettinger on plane trip

The Hungarian Green MEP who uncovered EU Commissioner Oettinger's flight to Budapest on a private plane of a lobbyist was not allowed to ask the German politician on the issue in the EP.

Column / Rem@rk@ble

Make Twiplomacy boring again

Contrary to received digital strategy wisdom, sometimes boring is better when it comes to leaders' communication.

MEP in police protection after Czech PM calls him 'traitor'

Three MEPs received numerous death threats in the Czech Republic for asking questions about how EU funds are being spent. One of them had his entire family under police protection after people threatened to murder his four children.

Black MEP: 'I have been a victim of police violence'

MEPs urged an end to structural racism and discrimination in Europe and the US, following the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by US police. Socialists and Green MEPs stressed the need to unblock the anti-discrimination directive.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us