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  • Writer's pictureBerlaymonster

And taking the Gold Medal in the definitely-not-participating-in-an-election-campaign event...

Gymnastics fans:

Have a read of the European Commission's response to Ombudsman concerns about President VDL's video interjection last year to support a fellow center-rightist in the Croatian elections.

The legal saltos, leaps and contortions as the document weaves lithely around the commission's Code of Conduct are positively worthy of an Olympic gong.

To begin the routine, the document steadies itself, adjusts its leotard, and repeats the line spun at the time that VDL was speaking in a personal capacity as a political ally:

"the Commission wishes to point out that ... President von der Leyen did not make her – extremely short – contribution to the video in question in her capacity as President of the Commission."

Here, by the way, is a screen grab of the video in question, picturing VDL, filmed in the European Commission, in front of an EU flag, with the caption "Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President" .

But definitely not speaking in a professional capacity as European Commission President.


[*Split-leg double layout with a half turn*]

To remind, the Code of Conduct says commissioners "shall abstain from making public statements or interventions on behalf of any political party or organisation of the social partners of which they are members,"


if they're standing for election or "playing an active role" in an election campaign


- they inform the president

- they withdraw from Commission work for the duration of the involvement

- OR the President says it's OK anyway

But according to the note to the Ombudsman, playing an 'active role in an election campaign' "is understood as a role which is similar to being a candidate... in cases of limited participation, like occasional statements during the campaign, Members can continue to perform their duties."

"As long as the participation in a national election campaign is limited, there is no conflict with the exercise of the functions of a Member of the Commission."

That's not what's written in the Code of Conduct. Not at all in fact. But it is, the note explains, "an established practice of the Commission."

So that's alright then.

[*Front handspring - front tuck, tour-jeté into a double turn*]

And then, for a big finish, the note says the Code is binding on all commission members "including the President", and that the person responsible for ensuring "the proper application of the Code", including on the President, is ...

[*Front full, front half, split drop*]

... the President!

[*Perfect landing, smile, bow, crowd goes mild*]

And if you have any concerns that this routine might be in breach of European Gymnastic Federation rules, rest assured that the commission has promised to "clarify the practical modalities" to make clear that it isn't.

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