Friday

26th Feb 2021

Culture MEPs rebel against Juncker

  • Navracsics should be commissioner, but not in charge of culture and education, say some MEPs (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Parliament is voting on Wednesday (22 October) on the Juncker commission, which is expected to sail through without problems.

But to a handful of MEPs, dealing with culture and media freedom, this is an affront.

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

They say Jean-Claude Juncker flatly ignored them when they approved the Hungarian commissioner, Tibor Navracsics, on condition he be put in charge of something other than culture and education.

Navracsics is a thorn in their side after having been part of a government that clamped down on media freedom, civil society, and independence of the judiciary.

"We want to express our deep dissatisfaction about Juncker selecting Navracsics for the same post. We are furious about this decision, Navracsics was responsible for the media law in Hungary that made the situation much worse," German Green MEP Helga Trupel said in a press conference.

She insisted Juncker should change the Hungarian's portfolio completely, not just exclude the citizenship part, and give it to another commissioner.

"I think there are very good reasons to include citizenship in the culture and media portfolio. It should be the other way around - keep the dossier together and give it to another person, who is more credible," Trupel said.

The German Green MEP was joined in her boycott call by French Liberal MEP Jean-Marie Cavada, who noted that "demcoracy sometimes stops at the gates of the EU institutions" because they failed to take any sanctions against the autocratic government of Viktor Orban.

"This is not just an exotic Hungarian story. If we tolerate this, other countries will follow, and I am including my country that sent a big block of anti-EU MEPs in the last elections," Cavada said in reference to the success of the far-right National Front in the EU elections.

Italian MEP Isabella Adinolfi from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement also joined in on the Juncker boycott, as well as leftist Italian MEP Curzio Maltese.

Their boycott is unlikely to succeed. But it does send a signal for Juncker about not ignoring the human rights and media freedom issue in member states.

He is to present his team of commissioners and their tweaked competences on Wednesday morning before putting it to a vote.

Apart from the Navracsics portfolio, he is also expected to announce changes to his 'first vice-president', Frans Timmermans, who is to also deal with "sustainable development" and oversee another controversial commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, in charge of energy and climate change.

Space - initially foreseen for the transport commissioner - is to stay as part of DG entreprise and go to the Polish commissioner, Elzbieta Bienkowska.

US diplomat lashes out at Hungary's Orban

Victoria Nuland, the US' top diplomat on Europe, has indirectly criticised Hungarian leader Viktor Orban for the “cancer” of “democratic backsliding”.

Hungary raids Norway-backed NGOs

Hungary has been accused of moving away from EU democratic values following a raid on two NGOs earlier this week.

Hungarian PM breaks ranks on Juncker

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he will not support Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to become president of the European Commission even if the European People's Party wins the European elections.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

EUobserved

The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them

Ideas that are attacked are actually being promulgated. That has been the case for centuries, at least as far back as Thomas Aquinas. And that is certainly the case today with Facebook and Twitter.

News in Brief

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

Coronavirus

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

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