One of Ursula von der Leyen’s top picks as an EU commissioner has defended her controversial move to set up a portfolio to “protect the European Way of Life”.
In a wide-ranging interview with Euronews’ Political Editor Darren McCaffrey, Johannes Hahn says 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 Global Conversation.
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 Hahn, who is currently the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy And Enlargement Negotiations, had a different perspective on the term.
"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.
Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has 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 said the issue of migration and how to deal with it was only one part of the portfolio.
“And to be honest, to offer asylum, to have a proper assessment procedure based on the rule of law, this is also part of our European way of life. We have rule of law. We have standards which people can rely on.“
Hahn has been nominated to be the new EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration in Von der Leyen's commission.
He said a no-deal Brexit would leave a big hole in the 2020 budget.
“I think first we should do everything that we can do to avoid a hard Brexit since it's not in the interest of us, the Europeans, and even less in the interest of the Brits.”
Hahn also touched on European Union enlargement, saying he was confident negotiations on North Macedonia and Albania joining the bloc would begin in October.