Tuesday

18th May 2021

Verheugen scorns Danish film as 'indecent'

European Commissioner for enlargement, Günter Verheugen is shocked that the German public TV-station, NDR will show the Danish fly-on-the-wall EU summit documentary, "Fogh behind the facades".

Speaking in Hamburg on Friday at a meeting organised by the German association for investigative journalism, Netzwerk Recherche, Mr Verheugen said it would "shock him", if the film was shown by the public television in his home country, Germany.

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NDR plans to broadcast the film on Tuesday, 27 May under the title "Alles Banditen" - roughly, "They're all a bunch of rogues".

Filming in the red zone

The film was produced during four months of the Danish EU presidency by TV director Christoffer Guldbrandsen.

He was allowed to shadow the Danish Premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen and filmed EU meetings normally closed to the public. The idea was designed to show the public how the political processes worked, in an attempt to improve transparency. But the film has not been well received in all of Europe.

Violating human rights

Mr Verheugen has not seen the film and told the journalists in Hamburg, that he was not going to see it. "The picture painted can only be wrong", he said and added that he regarded the film as a violation of human rights.

"International politics must essentially be based on trust. You must be able to discuss things, without having it out in the public the day after. It is all about decency", he said at the meeting in Hamburg.

The film focuses on the enlargement negotiations, which has seen Mr Verheugen play a central role, and which were successfully concluded in the Copenhagen summit in December 2003 under the Danish EU presidency.

Fogh phoned and apologised

The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has also been critical towards the film, which was approved personally by the Danish Premier and also seen by his top adviser, Nils Bernstein, before being shown to the public.

Mr Schröder, who also attended the journalist seminar in Hamburg said that "everybody was upset, which he [Fogh] probably noticed since he had phoned and apologised".

"I am aware, that he [Fogh] says in the film, that he is certain the summit will end in time, because I would rather go to London than counting cows. I can only repeat, that I have accepted his explanations, that the film was a mistake", Mr Schröder said in Hamburg on Friday.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen publicly maintains, however, that the film was a good way to give the public an insight into political processes.

"I have had many positive reactions, but also some less positive from people, having difficulties in accepting such transparency", Mr Fogh said in a journalist conference held in Copenhagen on 1 May.

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