BRUSSELS – The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was criticized for participating in a promotional video for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) ahead of the parliamentary elections in that country, which violated the guidelines on political neutrality for Commission officials, Danas reported.
The former German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen is a member of the centre-right German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which belongs to the same group of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament as the HDZ.
Reacting to the avalanche of criticism on social networks, the main spokesman of the Commission, Eric Mamer, said that Ursula von de Leyen supported the Croatian campaign in her “personal capacity”, and added that “unfortunately this is not clearly shown in the final version of the video”. Mamer expressed regret, stating that her statement was used in the wrong way.
In the video, von der Leyen was marked as the president of the European Commission and was filmed standing in front of the European flag.
“The President recorded a short audio statement for a video in which members of the European People’s Party (EPP) appear. That was supposed to be her personal contribution to them, however, that was not clearly stated in the final version of the video,” Mamer wrote on his Twitter account.
The Code of Conduct for Members of the European Commission states that they should refrain from public statements and interventions on behalf of any political party or organization of social partners of which they are members, except when participating in elections or voting.
According to the still incomplete results, the ruling HDZ convincingly won yesterday’s elections. With over 90 percent of the votes counted, the HDZ won 66 seats in the 151-seat parliament and is likely to form a new coalition government with smaller right-wing groups.