Another scandal broke out around Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently traveled to Crete as a guest of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which caused high tensions in Brussels, and many began criticizing the EU leader. Many have criticized it mainly due to the fact that the European Union remains silent on sensitive political issues related to Greece, A. writes Politico.
An interesting note was also made by a reader of a Brussels newspaper, who pointed out that the photo used by a local Greek newspaper is actually from 2021, cleverly cropping out the Athenian Agora. This highlights the strange manipulation of the images.
However, the Greek islands are currently experiencing an increase in the number of tourists, which is putting pressure on the health system. Chronic shortages of ambulances and medical personnel led to preventable deaths during the summer. This question highlights the challenges faced by the Greek health system due to the influx of tourists. This is a topic that the European Commission left without a word.
Dutch MP Sophie en Velde expressed her displeasure with von der Leyen’s leave, noting that she was concerned that the commission had not responded to several pressing issues related to Greece, such as the return of migrants, the inadequate investigation into the refugee boat tragedy, the spyware scandal about wiretapping journalists and reduce the powers of independent oversight bodies. In ‘t Veld has promised to take action: write a letter to the European Commission and the European Ombudsman, and start a parliamentary debate on the matter. He stressed the importance of holding the Commission accountable for its actions.
Von der Leyen’s leave was described by Ent Feld as “a serious breach of treaties, political correctness and neutrality”. He criticized the Chairman of the Commission for threatening his independence and credibility by vacationing in the villa of a national leader who is a key figure in the matters concerned.
UNHCR defended von der Leyen’s flight, saying it was a private flight that complied with UNHCR guidelines. The spokesperson also noted previous comments on the record that addressed concerns raised by in ‘t Veld. The situation has sparked debate about the appropriateness of such private trips by senior officials, particularly in the context of sensitive political matters involving the host country.
Moving on to the European Parliament elections in 2024, the new scandal comes at a very bad time for Ursula von der Leyen. In addition, attention can be redirected to another case: the issue of alleged text messages exchanged between the President of the European Commission and Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, has not been clarified to this day. The correspondence is said to have played a significant role in preparing the EU’s major COVID-19 vaccine deal. However, the committee’s response to requests for access to the letters was negative, after which they went underground. While journalists and organizations including Politico sought to see the messages under EU transparency rules, the Commission’s spokesperson services said their documentation system did not record any text messages, suggesting they did not exist or were not important enough to be recorded.
The evasive approach of EU executives, including claims that they cannot be forced to create documents that do not exist, has raised concerns about transparency and accountability. The case has led to criticism from the European Ombudsman and legal action by The New York Times at the European Court of Justice, highlighting the limitations of the EU’s voluntary transparency mechanisms.
Cover image source: Alexandros Michailidis via EU