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Oettinger facing EU parliament

Europe
09.01.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
German EU commissioner faces parliamentary scrutiny in new role
EU lawmakers interrogated gaffe-prone European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger about his past blunders on Monday during a special session about his new job overseeing budget and human resources for the commission.
GALLERY
Brussels (dpa) - Members of three budgetary and legal committees quizzed the German commissioner about his financial and personnel plans in the new role, which he was assigned after the resignation of vice president Kristalina Georgieva.

During his tenure as commissioner of digital economy, Oettinger used the term "slitty eyes" to describe Chinese people, talked about "forced gay marriage" in Germany and said women would be unable to reach top jobs if it weren‘t for preferential quotas.

Critics have said the derogatory language disqualified the commissioner from overseeing personnel matters in Brussels.

"It was and is not my intention to hurt anyone with my comments," Oettinger told lawmakers on Monday. "I explicitly regret these past remarks."

Oettinger has also come under scrutiny in Brussels for flying in a Russian honorary consul‘s private plane on official business.

Oettinger flew in Klaus Mangold‘s private jet to Budapest to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban on May 18, according to his own accounts.

The flight was later deemed "not a conflict of interest," according to a European Commission spokesman.

Under European Commission rules, top officials are not allowed to accept gifts of more than 150 euros (158 dollars), a threshold that the value of the chartered flight exceeds.

Monday‘s hearing will not likely affect Oettinger‘s position as commissioner. The parliament cannot oust individual members of the European Commission but can remove the entire commission with a no-confidence vote.

 

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