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Commissioner for 'European way of life' attracts criticism as pandering to the far-right

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By Alexander Morgan  & Caroline Mortimer
Commissioner for 'European way of life' attracts criticism as pandering to the far-right

Reaction to the appointment of a European Union commissioner for protecting the “European way of life” has received mixed reviews with some accusing the EU of pandering to the far-right.

Former Greek MEP Margaritis Schinas has been nominated to take on the newly created role of EU commissioner for “protecting the European way of life”.

The job’s portfolio includes migration, security, employment and education.

Writing on Twitter, the leader of the Liberal bloc in the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, says the wording of the position made him uncomfortable.

He questioned why the incoming President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had linked migration to “protecting the European way of life”.

He said: “We need strict and fair immigration rules, but this Commission should far away from (Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor) Orban’s rhetoric. She has to rectify this ASAP. What’s the ‘European way of life’”.

The leader of Green bloc in the parliament, Ska Keller, said it was “scary” to see migration included in a portfolio with this name.

She said “We hope President von der Leyen does not see a contradiction between supporting refugees and European values”.

A European Commission spokeswoman told Euronews that the controversial job title had not been changed.

They added that the name of the portfolio comes from the President elect's Political Guidelines, which strive to protect Europe's values (of solidarity, being a safe haven for refugees, with welfare systems and integration policies that protect the most vulnerable in our societies, and a place that empowers its citizens and protects them from security threats).

Following the European parliamentary elections in May, right-wing parties like former Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini’s La Lega party and former French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (formerly the Front National) party.

This meant they had greater influence in selecting the new European Council and European Commission Presidents who will take office on 1 November.

Responding to the criticism, von der Leyen tweeted:

Her new executive team of 27, one for each member state excluding the UK, will be in place for the five years of her term but must be individually confirmed by the parliament.

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