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What does the EU Commissioner’s interference in Croatian elections mean

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The European Union Commissioner UrsulaVon der Leyen, appeared in an video along with other senior politicians including Croatian commissioner Dubravka Suica, as part of an election campaign for the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). The video which was doing doing roundsahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, got caught in a controversy, questioning Von der Leyen’s participation in it.

On Monday, the Commission released a statement in the EU Commissioner’s defence saying that though “technical mistakes” happened in the video, including not removing the backdrop showing EU Commission office and flashing of President’s title, but no code of conduct was violated.

The EU chief spokesperson Eric Mamer said, “She [von der Leyen] respected in her intentions all her commitments.” He added that a short video clip was recorded on the request of Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic’s office.

The EU Commission in order to pacify the soaring criticism over the video, said that in personal capacity the President was very much within her rights to be part of the election campaign. Mamer said, “The president wishes to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place to avoid such an unintentional error creeping in in the future. She president is a member of the EPP, in this context she can express political views.”

The EU spokesperson added, “Clearly the president is of the view that it is a good thing for European democracy that members of the college can engage in active political life,(along with appropriate conditions)”.

The NGO, The Good Lobby, has lodged a complaint against the EU president’s video with the EU ombudsman, urging the latter for investigations as Von der Leyen’s clip was in breach of the commission’s norms. The group complained that Von der Leyen’s political statement was direct breach of Article 9.3 of the EU Commissioner’s Code of Conduct.

In a statement the NGO said that besides holding “personal opinion”there was nothing personal as the video clip was shot from her office in the commission’s HQ, and used her EU institutional title.The Good Lobby argued that von der Leyen “failed to take any measure that could have allowed to qualify her contribution as ‘personal'”.

The statement said, “Suffice is to notice that it was recorded and delivered from Ursula von der Leyen’s office, in the Berlaymont building, by using the institutional title, as well as the setting transitionally employed by the EU Commission President in her public addresses to EU citizens.” Besides, a complaint was also lodged against Croatia’s EU commissioner Dubravka Suica who was also part of the video and appeared in front of an EU flag.

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