Monday

19th Feb 2018

EP to give Oettinger the green light

  • Oettinger's new portfolios are set to be endorsed by the parliament (Photo: European Commission)

European Parliament (EP) group leaders will decide with EP president Martin Schulz on Thursday (12 January) whether Guenther Oettinger, a controversial German politician, is fit to be promoted.

Formerly in charge of the European Commission’s digital market portfolio, he is now tipped to become a commission vice-president in charge of budgets and human resources, including ethics.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker put Oettinger up for the role despite his racist, sexist, and homophobic gaffes and despite a dispute surrounding his flight on the private jet of a pro-Kremlin lobbyist.

The Socialists and Greens wanted to punish Oettinger for his sins, but EP sources said it was unlikely that they would succeed.

Juncker and Oettinger belong to the European People’s Party (EPP) - the largest group in the EP.

Coordinators from three committees - budget, budgetary control, and legal affairs - held an “exchange of views” with Oettinger on Monday, but did not give him a hard time.

According to EP sources, the budget and budgetary control committees supported Oettinger, but MEPs on the legal affairs desk were still locked in debate.

There was some confusion about the text of the committees’ official recommendation, the sources added.

They said the legal affairs committee secretariat had rubber-stamped a text that did not reflect the Socialist and Green misgivings because officials were confused about the deadline.

The approved text “expects a strong commitment” from Oettinger on transparency and non-discrimination from, but says he is fit to do the job.

'Shot in the foot'

Even if the EP had raised the red flag, Juncker would not have been obliged to change his mind.

“All this bears little weight, one way or another this appointment will go through,” Benedek Javor, a Hungarian Green MEP said.

Javor was the man who originally unearthed Oettinger’s lobbyist jet trip.

He said that Juncker’s choice did not serve Europe well in times of mounting euroscepticism.

“This appointment reinforces the impression in European citizens, especially the ones who still believe in the European project, that the EU is all about lobbying and back-door deals”, Javor said.

Th move also “emboldens radical, populist and anti-European political forces,” he added.

“From a public relations point of view, Juncker is shooting himself in the foot with this appointment,” said another EU source, who did not want to be named.

The Commission did not reply to EUobserver’s request for a comment.

Missed opportunity

Oettinger’s hearing was mainly a formality.

Under new rules coming into force later in January, MEPs would have had the right to oppose a change of portfolio for a commissioner.

But Juncker had already appointed the German in his new post before Monday’s questions, diminishing the MEPs’ role.

Oettinger said he was sorry if his comments had hurt anybody and continued to deny wrongdoing on the lobbyist flight.

MEPs asked few hard questions, with Transparency International, an NGO, calling the whole affair aa “missed opportunity”.

EUobserved

Juncker too tight in his EU suit

The European Commission president floated ideas on what his institution could look like. But faced with the member state powers, he failed to lay out a structured vision.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU