Ursula von der Leyen called to ‘step down’ by MEPDutch MEP Kati Piri lambasted the Commission chief as she questioned Mrs von der Leyen's independe
Ursula von der Leyen called to ‘step down’ by MEP
Dutch MEP Kati Piri lambasted the Commission chief as she questioned Mrs von der Leyen’s independence in her role after she was helped reach the top spot in the EU by France, Germany and Hungary. Speaking to CNN, the Dutch social democrat said: “She served in Merkel’s cabinet and was proposed for President by Macron, having not bothered campaigning for the job.
“She only won her approval by nine votes, relying on Orban’s MEPs.
“How can she possibly be independent when it comes to France, Germany or Hungary?”
The Commission boss has often come under attack for her weak stance against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s disrespect for EU rules and principles.
Echoing Ms Piri’s comments, German MEP Daniel Freund said: “When countries like Hungary were in the process of joining the EU, Brussels could use money and other trinkets to build up democratic norms.
EU news: Ursula von der Leyen apologised to MEPs
Von der Leyen cannot be independent from France, Germany and Hungary, says Kati Piri MEP
“But once they were in, punishments for backsliding could have implications for other member states, so the EU repeatedly does little to punish bad behaviour.”
The problem, Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Politics at Rutgers University Daniel Kelemen claims, lies in the fact that the European Union institutions insist on being increasingly political.
He told CNN: “A technocratic Commission could quite easily say ‘you have broken the rules so we are imposing this mechanism.
“A political Commission considers the implications of its actions in a different context.”
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Ursula von der Leyen was urged to resign by MEPs
Mrs von der Leyen reached rock bottom when earlier this week she was forced to apologise to MEPs over her mistakes with the EU’s vaccine procurement strategy.
Many in the European Parliament urged the Commission boss to resign after she briefly triggered Article 16 of the Brexit protocol.
The triggering of the special clause of the protocol, which ensures the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains open, threatened an export ban on vaccines to Northern Ireland.
The move came as a result of the Commission chief contractual row with vaccine producer AstraZeneca.
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The Commission chief delivered a humiliating apology before the European Parliament on Tuesday admitting to her failures.
But Mrs von der Leyen tried to explain away the botched process on technical grounds.
She said: “There is not a compromise we can make when it comes to injecting people with biologically active substances into an individual with good health.
“And that’s the reason why we rely on the European Medicines Agency procedure.
“And yes, that means that the approval takes from three to four weeks more.”
Coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the world as of February 13
The following day, her mea culpa did not prove to be sufficient to squash criticism from French politicians who promptly took to Twitter to attack the EU chief.
Jerome Riviere MEP said: “The people of Europe will not forget the total failure of this EU and its dramatic handling of the health crisis.”
Echoing Mr Riviere’s comment, MEP Manon Aubry wrote: “The EU strategy on vaccines is a real fiasco; we are capable of imposing restrictions on all citizens, but not rules for big pharmaceutical companies.”
National Rally MEP Nicolas Bay added: “All countries that have ordered vaccines outside the EU are doing better. The European Union is failing.”
EU news: The Commission has often been accused of being too weak on Orban
Mrs von der Leyen, who has also spoken at five groupings of MEPs over the past weeks, said 26 million vaccine doses had been delivered and that, by the end of the summer, 70 percent of adults in the 27-nation bloc should have been inoculated.
She told Parliament: “And yet it is a fact that we are not today where we want to be in the fight against the virus.
“We were late with the approval.
“We were too optimistic on mass production.
“And perhaps we were also too certain that the orders would actually be delivered on time.”