Commissioner Oettinger apologises for offensive remarks against Wallonia
Friday, 04 November 2016
European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Günther Oettinger, issued a statement yesterday (3 November) where he referred to a speech he had given in Hamburg.
“I had time to reflect on my speech, and I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people. This was not my intention and I would like to apologise for any remark that was not as respectful as it should have been,” he said.
In his speech on the negotiations between the EU and Canada on a Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), Oettinger referred to Wallonia as a “micro-region led by communists, which blocks all of Europe.”
He also pointed to the need to have a functioning European governance – “the CETA example showed that Europe’s credibility as a reliable partner in international trade is easily lost if we do not pay more attention.”
Oettinger explained in his apology that he had been frank and open in his speech – “it was not a speech read-out, but “frei von der Leber” as we say in German.”
Oettinger expressed regret “that some of my remarks were misquoted regarding Wallonia which is not only historically an important European region, but actively contributes to the cultural and political diversity of Europe. Coming myself from a federal state, I take regions and their points of view very seriously.”
As reported earlier, the President of the Socialist Party in Wallonia, Elio Di Rupo, wrote a letter to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, protesting against the comments made by Oettinger and asking Juncker to reprimand his Commissioner.