Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

EU’s ‘protecting our European way of life’ post compared to far-right slogan

The new commissioner will be charged with overseeing the EU’s immigration policy

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 AP
Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 AP

The creation of an EU “Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life” has been blasted by politicians and human rights groups as the equivalent of adopting a far right slogan.

The new role, which has also been denounced as “absurd” and “scary,” was unveiled by incoming EU commission president Ursula Von der Leyen as she introduced her new cabinet at a press conference in Brussels.

Critics have decried the dystopian name for the post, which will include upholding the rule-of-law, migration and internal security across the bloc, for portraying migrants as a threat to Europe.

"It's a far-right slogan!" the European Trade Union wrote in a tweet. "And why ... is migration in this portfolio? We need protection for our democracy, against climate change etc - not against migrants," the European trade confederation added.

“Whatever the European way of life is, it wouldn't exist without millennia of migration from both within and outside Europe,” EU officer for the international NGO Human Rights Watch Claudio Francavilla wrote in a tweet.

“Subtly portraying the latter as a threat to the former is simply absurd,” he added.

Ska Keller, president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, said in a statement that the creation of a the new role with its implied approach to migration and law and order was "scary".

"We hope President von der Leyen doesn't see a contradiction between supporting refugees and European values," she said.

Margaritis Schinas, a former Greek MEP with a long tenure as an official on the European Commission, has been given the new role in Ms Von der Leyen’s team.

The gender-equal commission, which includes three senior vice presidents, has said it will bring about more assertive European leadership in the international arena.

Updated: September 11, 2019 03:37 PM

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