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European Commission: Insult and be promoted!

Last week, Günther Oettinger, Germany’s EU Commissioner for digital economy, unleashed a storm of criticism by referring to Chinese people as ‘slant eyes’ and ‘rascals’, seriously denigrating women and mocking gay marriage

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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Maybe you remember the exhortation from Jean Claude-Juncker that this will be the “Commission of the last chance,” which needed more than ever to be accountable for its actions. At Monday’s Commission midday briefing for EU correspondents that accountability was missing-in-action. Margaritis Schinas, Commission chief-spokesperson, fended off a barrage of questions, repeatedly refusing to condemn Oettinger’s remarks and insisting there was nothing more to say about them.
Maybe you remember the exhortation from Jean Claude-Juncker that this will be the “Commission of the last chance,” which needed more than ever to be accountable for its actions. At Monday’s Commission midday briefing for EU correspondents that accountability was missing-in-action. Margaritis Schinas, Commission chief-spokesperson, fended off a barrage of questions, repeatedly refusing to condemn Oettinger’s remarks and insisting there was nothing more to say about them.

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by N. Peter Kramer

It happened just a few days after the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker offered the German a promotion! He was chosen by Juncker as successor of budget commissioner and Vice-President the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva who is fleeing from the Commission to the World Bank after missing the UN Secretary-General job. 

Last week’s  comments weren’t a slip-up by Oettinger. They are the latest instalment in his 'normal' pattern of behaviour; from kind eulogies for Nazis to victim-blaming women who have suffered crimes, from regular insults of non-German countries to suggestions older workers should be paid less*. Commissioner Oettinger told Die Welt newspaper that his comment was ‘a somewhat slang expression that was in no way meant to show a lack of respect for China’. He did not deny making the remarks, nor did he offer any explanation for his references to women or gay marriage, let alone apologise.  

Maybe you remember the exhortation from Jean Claude-Juncker that this will be the “Commission of the last chance,” which needed more than ever to be accountable for its actions. At Monday’s Commission midday briefing for EU correspondents that accountability was missing-in-action. Margaritis Schinas, Commission chief-spokesperson, fended off a barrage of questions, repeatedly refusing to condemn Oettinger’s remarks and insisting there was nothing more to say about them. The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová even declined to react. 

It looks as though the European Parliament, which must approve Oettinger’s promotion, is much more upset about his racist and homophobic remarks. The leaders of five party groups (Socialists, Conservatives, Liberals, Left and Greens) have condemned his remarks. Yes, you are right, there is one group missing, the biggest one, the EPP (Christian Democrats). Oettinger’s and Angela Merkel’s group. Her spokesman said that Mr. Oettinger retained the German chancellor’s full confidence…  Viva Europa!

*POLITICO collected 15 of the best (or worst) Oettinger quotes: http://politi.co/2e6M8zb

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