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EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn defends 'European way of life' portfolio

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EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn defends 'European way of life' portfolio
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Pressure has been mounting on EU chief Ursula von der Leyen to change a commissioner's job title after it drew criticism from MEPs.

Earlier this week, Greek politician Margaritis Schinas was nominated to take on the "Protecting the European way of life" portfolio.

The post includes responsibility for policy areas such as migration, security, employment and education.

Critics say linking immigration and "Protecting the European way of life" panders to the far-right.

But von der Leyen, who sparked the controversy when she announced her picks for commissioners on Tuesday, was defended by Johannes Hahn, who said the post should stay.

"I think we have to promote the European way of life," Hahn, a current EU commissioner who has been picked to also serve under von der Leyen told Euronews.

Karima Delli, a French Green MEP who asked senior lawmakers in the European Parliament to send a letter to von der Leyen in support of changing the title, told Euronews: "What is completely unacceptable is that this name, which makes a link between immigration and protecting a European way of life, is the direct validation of the words of the far-right for whom immigrants are barbarians who threaten our way of life."

Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also weighed in on the debate, telling Euronews: "I don't like the idea that the European way of life is opposed to migration. Accepting those that come from far away is part of the European way of life," he said, adding that the portfolio should be more precise.

Hahn, who is currently the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy And Enlargement Negotiations, had a different perspective on the term.

He said that in the past people admired the "American dream" but for the past 20 years he said, "no one is talking about the American way of life".

"But I think we can be proud, we should be proud, and we should be more self-confident about the European way of life," Hahn said.

Hahn has been nominated to be the new EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration in Von der Leyen's commission.

Von der Leyen appeared to double down on the phrase by tweeting out a quote from the Treaty of Lisbon about European values which she defined as "Our European Way of Life".

Watch Euronews' political editor Darren McCaffrey's report in the video player above.