Ursula von der Leyen outrage: EU chief condemned for ‘disgusting and reprehensible’ move

Brexit agreement has 'real teeth' says Ursula von der Leyen

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The EU has reached a crucial moment in its history after Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, highlighted during the bloc’s official summit last month. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave a speech at the event, in which she questioned what the European project would look like in the future, noting that present actions “will determine the answers that we will be looking for tomorrow”. She added: “The most beautiful profession a man can have is that of bringing men together. It’s up to us now to keep on doing that. Thank you. Long live Europe.”

But while Ms von der Leyen looks to secure the EU’s future, whether the bloc has had full confidence in her has been questioned.

These doubts have simmered since the start of her tenure in 2019, when she was condemned for a “disgusting” and “reprehensible” move.

Ms von der Leyen was accused of creating a new position with a xenophobic message as she announced plans to create an office for “protecting our European way of life”.

The plan received widespread criticism from those in Europe.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a progressive Dutch MEP, said: “Creating a portfolio ‘Protection of the European way of life’ in response to ‘legitimate fears and concerns about the impact of irregular migration’ is totally misguided and reprehensible.”

Ska Keller, a German lawmaker who heads the Green party bloc in the European Parliament, also voiced her concern that the new post implied a “contradiction between supporting refugees and European values.”

Damien Careme, a French member of the Greens, said the portfolio name was “an abomination.”

He added: “It looks pretty but when one realises that it means he will be in charge of migration, integration and security, then it’s absolutely disgusting.”

The head of Amnesty International’s European institutions office, Eve Geddie, said: “Linking migration with security, in the portfolio of the Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life, risks sending a worrying message.”

The new job heading up the office was given to Margaritis Schinas, a former Greek member of European Parliament.

He defended the plan, saying his office would be “better protecting our citizens and borders and modernising our asylum system, to investing in Europeans’ skills and creating brighter futures for our youth.”

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He added: “I am confident that we can take great strides over the next five years to both protect and empower Europeans.”

Ms von der Leyen’s office also responded to the criticism.

Her representatives said that the name of the portfolio had been in her public strategy papers since July that year, and that the purpose of the office was to coordinate cross-border development and fighting terrorism, as well as protect values and democracy.

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