Wednesday

7th Dec 2016

Investigation

German EU commissioner rejects wrongdoing

  • German commissioner said Mangold''s plane was his only option (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger has denied wrongdoing after EUobserver reported that he flew on a German lobbyist’s private jet.

"Allegations are unfounded: Due to meetings, I could not take scheduled flight to be in time for dinner [with Hungarian] PM Orban. HU [Hungary] suggested plane Mangold" Oettinger said on Twitter on Tuesday evening (15 November).

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.

He took the flight, from Brussels to Budapest on 18 May, on a private plane that belonged to Klaus Mangold, a German businessman and pro-Russia lobbyist.

He made the trip, officially, to attend a conference on the future of cars in Hungary at the invitation of the Hungarian leader.

The commission admitted to the flight in early November after Green MEPs filed parliamentary questions in July.

The Commission, at first, told EUobserver that it did not want to add to the response given to MEPs.

It said in an email later on Tuesday that "due to diary constraints he could not take a scheduled flight to be in time for the working dinner with PM [prime minister Viktor] Orban".

It added: “Thus, the HU government suggested that commissioner Oettinger joins the plane of Klaus Mangold who was also travelling to Budapest. This was the only possible means to get on time to the meeting. The Hungarian authorities also paid for accommodation in Budapest”.

Benedek Javor, a Hungarian Green MEP who filed the original question, said the explanation was full of gaps, however.

“Questions still remain on why Oettinger needed to take Mangold's, a Russian lobbyist's plane, who paid for the flight, and why did the commission not make use of its framework agreement to take private jets?," he told EUobserver.

Commissioners are not allowed to accept gifts worth more than €150.

The Commission has an agreement with commercial airlines on using jets for "non-scheduled air-taxi transport services for passengers and their luggage".

With the Commission saying that Hungary had suggested the Mangold option, Javor also asked how come the Hungarian government was so close to the German lobbyist as to offer trips on his private plane.

Javor believes that Oettinger met Orban to talk about the Paks II nuclear project rather than about the “future of cars”, as officially stated.

Paks II is Orban’s plan to build two nuclear reactors together with Russian firm Rosatom using a €10 billion Russia loan.

The Commission has launched legal proceedings on allegations that it violates EU anti-trust and public procurement loans.

"The commission's response confirms that there was a bilateral meeting with Orban and Oettinger … and I doubt they only discussed digital cars," Javor said.

In its response to Javor’s earlier questions, the commission said “the Paks II nuclear project was not discussed” by Oettinger and Orban.

Oettinger is due again in Budapest on Thursday to speak at a conference with prime minister Viktor Orban on the future of Europe and digitalisation.

Investigation

Donbass: a region nobody wants?

The Donbass region in east Ukraine is on the road to becoming a de jure Ukrainian province, but a de facto Russian-backed mafia state.

Investigation

Dutch bank faces questions on Romania land-grab

Dutch banking giant Rabobank is facing questions over investments in Romania, amid concerns that its subsidiaries are "land grabbing" in some of the EU's poorest and most corrupt regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  3. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  5. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  6. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  7. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  8. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  9. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  10. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  11. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  12. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals