Wednesday

28th Jun 2017

France faces second 'Air Dictator' scandal

A second 'Air Dictator' scandal has gripped the French government, after Prime Minister Francois Fillon admitted to using the plane of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak to go on vacation with his family.

Dubbed "Air Mubarak" after the recent "Air Ben Ali" scandal involving French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the Egyptian holiday of Mr Fillon was again uncovered by the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine, the same publication that first reported on the foreign affairs chief's holiday jaunt.

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.

The prime minister's office on Tuesday (8 February) admitted in a press release that the high ranking official had spent winter holidays at the expense of Mr Mubarak's government.

He and his family also "borrowed a plane from the Egyptian fleet to travel from Aswan to Abu Simbel where he visited a temple" and "embarked on a boat trip on the Nile" - all paid for by the Egyptians, the statement said.

Mr Fillon met Mr Mubarak on 30 December in the southern city of Aswan and on 1 January, he went to the local cathedral to offer his sympathies after the bombing of a church in Alexandria. The prime minister flew back on 2 January. Three weeks later, at least 300 people had reportedly been killed during street protests seeking to oust the 82-year-old leader who has ruled Egypt for almost three decades.

The row comes only days after French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie had to apologise amid calls for her resignation after she vacationed in Tunisia using a jet of one of the deposed dicatator's friends.

Since then, she has promised to spend all her future vacations in the Dordogne and French leader Nicolas and Mr Fillon have both backed her continued service as foreign minister.

Mr Sarkozy has said he will make "recommendations" to his ministers on what is acceptable when going abroad for holidays, however.

But the promise has had little truck with the Socialist opposition. "Clearly, one can see day after day to what extent the government has lost its public sense," Socialist leader Martine Aubry said, as quoted by Le Figaro.

In 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy himself had to face criticism over his Christmas break with Carla Bruni, also spent in Egypt.

Mr Sarkozy's close ties with the Egyptian strongman were also evident during the rotating EU presidency held by Paris in 2008, when he launched the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), appointing Mr Mubarak as co-chair.

Ultimately, the ill-starred UfM last year failed to meet at top-level due to divergencies over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its secretary general resigned last month citing "difficult circumstances."

EU fines Google €2.4 bn over online shopping

Brussels says Google has abused a near-monopoly position in online searches to favour its shopping service, but the US company said Brussels cannot prove the charges.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  2. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  3. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  5. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  6. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  7. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  8. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  9. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  10. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  11. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million

Latest News

  1. 'USB condoms' and migration on Estonia's EU agenda
  2. EU parliament should befriend transparency
  3. EU fines Google €2.4 bn over online shopping
  4. EU Commission could get say on Russia gas pipeline
  5. G20 is 'test run' for Trump-era climate governance
  6. Political conditions for EU funds prompt debate
  7. May defends proposal on EU citizens' rights
  8. UK visitors to pay into EU budget after Brexit