Friday

26th Feb 2021

NGOs warn against Oettinger's nomination

  • Commissioner Oettinger has had the highest number of meetings with corporate representatives (Photo: European Commission)

European NGOs have protested in a letter to members of the European Parliament against extending EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger's portfolio ahead of his parliamentary hearing next Monday (9 January).

The German commissioner is not fit to hold the responsibility for human resources in the European Commission, said the letter, signed by, among others, anti-corruption groups Transparency International EU and Corporate European Observatory, gay rights groups, anti-poverty charities like Oxfam and other groups.

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

"As organisations working towards equality, non-discrimination and campaigning for transparency and ethics, we do not think that Commissioner Oettinger is suitable to oversee Human Resources at the European Commission."

MEPs are expected to question Oettinger next Monday, after EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker proposed that he becomes vice president in charge of budget and human resources replacing Kristalina Georgieva, who has taken a job at the World Bank.

The NGOs argue that Oettinger "has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks", citing comments he made in Hamburg on 26 October.

The groups also recall that as commissioner for human resources, Oettinger would be responsible for enforcing transparency and ethics rules, but that the German commissioner has "repeatedly attracted criticism over his way of interacting with lobbyists".

The groups claim that almost 90 percent of Oettinger's meetings have been with corporate interest groups, the highest number among the commissioners.

Oettinger has also had undisclosed meetings with lobbyists - last May he accepted a flight in a private jet of a German businessman with close ties to the Russian leadership.

"In our view, Oettinger is unfit to inspire compliance with existing ethics and transparency rules among Commission staff and his peers," the NGOs say in their letter.

Oettinger had repeatedly denied wrongdoing and apologised for his racist comments. But the NGOs argue that is not enough.

"At this crucial moment for the EU, it is more vital than ever to have a strong and credible commitment from the European Commission to counter discrimination and act for equality for all. The Commissioner in charge of human resources must lead by example."

Next Monday, in a joint meeting of the budgetary control and legal affairs committee, MEPs will have a chance to ask Oettinger on those issues in an "exchange of views".

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.

Investigation

Oettinger left no trace of VW Dieselgate meeting

EU commissioner for the digital economy and society, Guenther Oettinger, met with German carmakers in January to discuss "diesel emissions", even though the topic is not in his portfolio.

News in Brief

  1. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  2. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  3. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  4. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  5. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  6. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  7. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag
  8. Heavy earthquakes in Iceland trigger volcanic activity

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us