by N. Peter Kramer
Politico let know, that, according to EU officials with direct knowledge of the investigations, European Commission officials are hunting for leakers. This after a series of disclosures that infuriated Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. ‘One official and one EU diplomat, interviewed separately, said the new investigations signalled growing paranoia within Von der Leyen’s team’ , Politico writes. It seems that the investigations are not at all about leaks to journalists but to the EU member-states!
Some diplomats said the effort to investigate civil servants for sharing information with national governments and branding those disclosures as ‘leaks’, reflect a continuing struggle by Von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, and her inner circle including several advisers she brought in from Berlin, to adept to the ways it works in Brussels. In the EU capital, secrets are nearly impossible to keep, and the requirement for member states to unanimously approve most policy initiatives demands constant-consultation and collaboration.
Politico spoke about the leak investigations with EU officials and diplomats who declined to be identified, citing the fear of political retribution or professional reprimand. One of them described the situation as ‘a toxic cocktail of hypocrisy and McCarthyism’, referring to the witch-hunt against alleged communists led by the US Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early fifties. It was said hat the hunt for leakers was particularly futile and misguided because the president’s office would find itself frequently in a position of needing to selectively disclose information about policy initiatives.
Also Von der Leyen has appeared to miscalculate when she could make a unilateral announcement and when she is better off waiting for the national leaders. For instance, her announcement of an EU-wide unemployment reinsurance scheme effectively decreed how member states would spend their money came before the national leaders had formally given their endorsement. Remember also one of the videoconferences of the council when Chancellor Angela Merkel seemed to expressed concern that the press would hear about the Commission’s revised MFF proposal before the leaders did. ‘Don’t forget to talk with us’, she told Von der Leyen.